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5000 years of history and culture
Anjana Motihar Chandra
India 5000 years of history and culture Anjana Motihar Chandra .
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has been to present the basic information about each period of Indian history without delving into extensive interpretation and analysis. they may be perceived as cumbersome tomes by readers looking for basic facts and simple information. It presents all the major episodes of India’s fascinating past. While countless books have been written about the history and culture of this great country. This is because of the absence of documented information about this period. providing detailed information as well as insightful interpretations of India’s complicated past. literature. Instead it is an easy-to-read work which attempts to present India in a nutshell. religions. the attempt has been to present reliable information about the history of India. from the early days of the Indus Valley Civilisation to the traumatic partition of the Indian subcontinent and the post-independence years. dance. A book of this kind fulfils this need for brevity. may vary from other sources. However. festivals. Dates and certain details in this book. The attempt.PREFACE This book is not an in-depth study of Indian history and culture. films. . This book was written for the overseas Indian or non-Indian who is keen to familiarise himself with Indian history and culture. most are comprehensive and extensive. music. as well as interesting details about its philosophy. For this reason. particularly those related to ancient Indian history. as far as possible. art and crafts.
Kushan and Indo-Parthian Kingdoms 33. 273–232 BC) 29. Bhimbetka 19. 335–380) 35. 320–335) 34. The Mahajanapadas and the Kingdom of Magadha 25 Alexander The Great (r. . 78–111) 33 The Gupta Period (320–550) 34 Chandragupta I (r. Later Vedic Period 25. The Kanva Dynasty (73–28 BC) 31. Aryans Introduce the Caste System 24. 321–297 BC) 28. Way Of Life 22 Aryans And The Vedic Age (1700–500 BC) 23 Early Vedic Period 23. Rise of Buddhism under Ashoka’s Patronage 30 Post-Ashoka Period 31 The Sunga Dynasty (185–73 BC) 31. The Satavahana Dynasty (c 28 BC–250 AD) 32 Greek And Central Asian Invaders 32 Indo-Greek Kingdom (175–10 BC) 32. 327–323 BC) 27 The Maurya Dynasty (321-185 BC) 28 Chandragupta Maurya: the Monarch Who Uniﬁed India (r. King Kanishka (r. Mehrgarh 20 Ancient India 21 Indus Valley Civilisation (2800–1900 BC) 21 Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro 21.CONTENTS P R E FAC E 5 C H RO N O L O G Y 1 2 MAP OF INDIA 16 H I S TO RY 1 8 Prehistoric India 19 Stone Age Settlements 19. Indo-Scythian. Samudragupta (r. Ashoka the Great (r.
The Pandya Dynasty and Vijayanagara 43 Muslims Invade India 44 Mahmud of Ghazni (997–1030) 44. Humayun (1530–1556) 51. The Sayyid and Lodhi Dynasties 49 The Mughal Empire (1526–1858) 50 Babur the Tiger (1526–1530) 50. The Golden Age of Indian History 36. Aurangzeb: The Last of the Great Mughal Rulers (r. Decline of the Gupta Empire and the Hun Invasion 38 Post-Gupta Period 38 Harshvardhana: A Secular Scholar (r. The Chera Dynasty (800–1300) 43. The British East India Company (1608–1858) 58 The British Raj 62 Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 62. Shah Jahan: The Emperor who Built the Taj Mahal (r. The Tughlaq Dynasty (1320-1413) 48. Trade Wars 57. Society and Economy under British Rule 63 . 606–647) 38 Rise Of The Rajputs 39 The Dark Age of India 40 The Southern Kingdoms 41 The Pallava Dynasty (4th–9th Centuries) 41. Jahangir (1605–1627) 52. Muhammad of Ghur (1175–1206) 45 The Delhi Sultanate (1206–1526) 45 Mamluk (Slave) Dynasty (1206-1290) 45.Chandragupta II (r. The Khilji Dynasty (1290-1320) 47. Akbar the Great (1556–1605) 51. The Crown Takes Charge 62. The Chola Dynasty (9th–13th Centuries) 42. 1658–1707) 54 The Arrival Of The Europeans 56 The Portuguese Traders 57. 1627–1658) 53. 380–415) 35.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) 68. Gandhi’s Salt March 70. Buddhism 82. Zoroastrianism 90 P E O P L E A N D L A N G UAG E S 9 2 Population 93. Hindu Militancy 73. Sanskrit 95. Hindu-Muslim Differences 70. Politics and Policies 75. Caste And Reservation 94. Christianity 87. Islam 85. Quit India Movement 71 Partition and Independence 73 Communal Catastrophe 73.CONTENTS Reform Movements 64 Rise of Indian Nationalism 65 Indian National Congress 65. Jainism 84. Hindi 96 L I T E R AT U R E 9 8 Traditional Literature 101 The Vedas 101 . Ofﬁcial Languages 94. India Becomes a Republic 75. Kashmir 74. Sikhism 88. The Nehru Legacy 76 RELIGIONS 78 Hinduism 79. The Muslim League 67. World War I and Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh 67.
Ramayana 102 Mahabharata 103 The Bhagavad Gita 103. Booker Prize-Winning Novels 106 F O L K TA L E S A N D P ROV E R B S 1 0 8 Panchatantra 109 The Heron and the Crab 110 The Jataka Tales 111 The Tale of the Two Parrots 111 Kathasaritsagara 112 The Heads that Got Switched 112 Proverbs 113 A RT S A N D C R A F T S 1 1 6 Madhubani Painting 117 Cave Art 118 Temple Architecture 118 Glass Painting 119 Miniature Painting 119 Folk Art 120 . Shakuntala 104 Modern Literature 104 Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) 104. Prem Chand (1880–1936) 105.
Wood.CONTENTS Modern Art 121 Clay. Stone And Metalware 122 P E R F O R M I N G A RT S 1 2 4 Bollywood: The Dream Machine 125 Bollywood in Transition 127 Music 129 Dance 130 Folk Dances 130 INVENTIONS AND MEDICINE 132 Mathematics 133 Aryabhata 134. Yoga 138 T H E I N D I A N C A L E N DA R 1 4 0 Indian Calendar 141 Indian National Calendar 143 . Nobel Laureate CV Raman 135 Traditional Medicine 136 Ayurveda 136. Siddha System of Medicine 138.
Continuity and Change 157 BIBLIOGRAPHY 158 ABOUT THE AUTHOR 166 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 168 INDEX 170 . Raksha Bandhan 147.Indian Festivals 143 Diwali. Foreign Relations 156. Holi. Baisakhi 148. Opposition in Power 155. Festival of Lights 144. Festival of Colours 146. Buddha Poornima or Buddha Jayanti 149. Dussehra 145. Mahavira Jayanti 149. Navroz 150 THE RESURGENCE OF INDIA 1525 India in The 21st Century 153 Congress Politics 154. Hindu Nationalists to the Fore 155.
HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS 2800 – 1900 BC Indus Valley Civilisation 1700 – 500 BC Vedic Civilisation 327 – 323 BC Alexander The Great 321 – 185 BC The Maurya Dynasty 185 – 73 BC The Sunga Dynasty 73 – 28 BC The Kanva Dynasty 28 BC – 250 AD The Satavahana Dynasty 320 – 550 AD The Gupta Dynasty 13 .
606 – 647 AD 1206 – 1526 1526 – 1858 Harshvardhana The Delhi Sultanate The Mughal Empire 1608 – 1858 1858 – 1947 1947 1950 The British East India Company The British Raj Partition & Independence India Becomes A Republic 14 .
MAP OF INDIA .
CHINA •Jammu and Kashmir PAKISTAN • Himacha Pradesh •Punjab • Uttaranchal •Haryana NEPAL Sikkim• BHUTAN • Assam Nagaland• • Bihar • Jharkhand • Meghalaya Manipur• Tripura• • Mizoram SH NG BA Arunachal Pradesh• • Uttar Pradesh •Rajasthan DE LA •Gujarat •Madhya Pradesh • Chhattisgarh • Orissa •Maharashtra • West Bengal •Andhra Pradesh Goa• •Karnataka Adnaman Islands• • Ke rala Ara bia n Sea •Tamil Nadu Bay of Ben g al Nicobar Islands• SRI LANKA .
He 19 . Neolithic communities emerged in Mehrgarh. the earliest settlement of its kind in South Asia. These early Stone Age societies gave way to middle Stone Age Mesolithic communities.PREHISTORIC INDIA Stone Age Settlements The region of South Asia. according to archaeological evidence from Stone Age sites. comprising present-day India. Bhimbetka Bhimbetka was a Mesolithic site which came into prominence because of its prehistoric rock paintings. are made up of five clusters of natural rock and display graphic paintings of life during the middle Stone Age period. In 7000 BC. at the foothills of the Vindhya Mountains.000 years ago. Pakistan. Madhya Pradesh. The rock shelters at Bhimbetka. was inhabited 500. a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bhimbetka. near present-day Bhopal. The paintings were discovered by accident in 1958 by archaeologist Dr V S Wakankar.The Mesolithic hunter-gatherers evolved into farmers in Mehrgarh. The paintings created on the walls of rock shelters about 9. in the area now occupied by Baluchistan.000–10. Pakistan. Bangladesh and Afghanistan.000 years ago by the Bhimbetka people are the earliest art forms to be found in India. was a middle Stone Age site.
Mehrgarh II (5500 BC–4800 BC) and Mehrgarh III (4800 BC–3500 BC).c. vegetable dyes. Some of the rocks show hunting scenes with hunters carrying bows. Mehrgarh Mehrgarh. roots and animal fat. thought to be of indigenous origin.The communities. sambhar. evident from the discovery of lapis lazuli beads. including stone and copper drills. evolved over time—buildings grew larger and the range of handicrafts expanded to include basketry and cotton textiles. and kilns and crucibles for melting copper. the Mehrgarh people buried their females with more goods than they did the males. The inhabitants of Mehrgarh lived in buildings made of mud-brick and cultivated barley and wheat as crops. was a Neolithic community in 7000 b. swords and shields. Seals made of terracotta and bone. One rock. a drawing shows a bison chasing a hunter. By 3500 BC. Mehrgarh covered an area of 75 hectares and carried out trade with neighbouring communities in the Quetta Valley. bisons and deer. were also a popular item of manufacture. they turned out to be prehistoric. It is known as the earliest farming settlement in South Asia and the first to use pottery. The people used a variety of production processes. while another rock displays a peacock. Copper came into use at Mehrgarh by 5000 BC. Pakistan. using stone tools to harvest them. Tools and ornaments were interred with the dead. In one of the caves. and decorated with geometric designs. They also shaped ornaments with these tools. snake and deer with the sun. The paintings depict the life of the people living in the caves. has pictures of elephants. situated in the Kachi plains to the west of the Indus River in what is now Baluchistan. arrows. The paints used by the Mesolithic people at Bhimbetka were made of coloured earth. as well as the animals and vegetation in the surrounding area. known as the ‘Zoo Rock’. The Mehrgarh period is divided into Mehrgarh I (7000 BC–5500 BC). Brushes were fashioned from fibrous twigs. On closer inspection.was travelling by train to Bhopal when he saw some unusual formations on the rock shelters. Mehrgarh seems to have been abandoned 20 . while another rock displays a human figure with horned headgear and an animal mask.
which were advanced for their time. the standard of civic life reached by the Indus people was believed to be on par with the Sumerians and higher than that of the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians. Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.000 residents each. hill citadels. They were laid out in rectangular patterns and included palatial homes. when the Indus Valley Civilisation started ANCIENT INDIA INDUS VALLEY CIVILISATION (2800 BC – 1900 BC) The Indus Valley Civilisation was South Asia’s first known urban settlement. In fact. were stable settlements with about 30. The two ancient cities are described as urban masterpieces because of their highly sophisticated layout and functional design. BC and 2000 BC. Public baths and a •Mohenjo-Daro Indus •Mohenjo-Daro Indus well-established drainage system with brick-lined sewers.between 2600 to develop. Harappa and the city of Mohenjo-Daro were the main centres of habitation. reaching its zenith between 2600 BC and 1900 BC. The Indus Valley Civilisation 21 HISTORY . It existed during the Bronze Age and is believed to have started around 2800 BC–2700 BC. probably the world’s first urban sanitation system of its kind. granaries. in present-day Pakistan and northwestern India. completed the elabor ate str ucture . developed in the vicinity of the Indus River and its tributaries. wide roads and canals Harappa• Harappa• for irrigation. set about 600 km apart from each other. also known as the Harappan Civilisation after its first excavated city Harappa. The Indus Valley Civilisation. The Bay of Bengal Arabian Sea sophisticated planning of the Indus Valley cities indicates the existence of a civic administrative body.
the director general of the Archaeological Survey of India. In fact the Indus people are likely to have been of Dravidian origin.These factors may have caused economic hardships leading to a gradual decay in society. including human figures. investigated the site and found some seals and other antiquities. Some of the seals also have representations of a god resembling the Hindu god Shiva—in one of the seals. The seals were carved with animal figures and a kind of pictographic script. that details of the Indus culture came to light with the excavation of Harappa in Punjab by Sir John Marshall. The decline of the Indus Valley Civilisation after 1900 BC has also been attributed to frequent flooding and a decline in the agricultural land due to climatic changes. The city of Mohenjo-Daro in Sind. an amateur archaeologist and general in the British army.The seals provide evidence of worship of the Mother Goddess. It was only later. in 1921. as well as weapons and tools made of bronze and copper. Pakistan. was discovered later and was almost fully excavated by 1931. delve into the unusual find. The writing has not been successfully deciphered but is believed to be related to the Dravidian script. The Indus Valley Dravidians are thought to have moved south with the coming of the Aryan invaders. revealed the advanced cultural life of the Indus Valley Civilisation.This ancient civilisation was discovered by chance when British engineers in the mid-1800s constructed a railway line linking Karachi to Punjab in present-day Pakistan and found kiln-baked bricks scattered at the site. probably with ancient Mesopotamia. Way of Life The economy of the Indus Valley Civilisation was based on agriculture and trade. however. he didn’t. as indicated by the presence of the distinctive Indus seals in Mesopotamia. he is depicted with three faces and a horned headdress. Sir Alexander Cunningham. 22 .The religious beliefs of the people bore similarities with Hinduism. The discovery of several terracotta objects of art. including the sacrifice of goats and other animals as offerings. with a culture akin to that of the Dravidians.
gives a comprehensive account of life in the early days of the Aryan society. but there is conflicting historical evidence about its origins. The ancient Hindu scriptures. are also believed to have originated during this period of Indian history.The Vedas were composed in the Sanskrit language. into northern India in 2000 BC. Iran. were buried along with a number of pots. and the Vedic Civilisation takes its name from these ancient scriptures. couples were buried together in the same grave. mingled with the Dravidians from the Indus Valley and eventually established what came to be known as the Vedic Civilisation.These nomadic tribals.The great Indian epics. the earliest document of Indian history. the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. ARYANS AND THE VEDIC AGE (1700 BC – 500 BC) The Vedic Civilisation succeeded the Indus Valley Civilisation in ancient India. and they fought amongst each other for 23 HISTORY . Scandinavia or Russia. The bodies. The Vedic age is divided into the Early Vedic Period (1700 BC–1000 BC) and the Later Vedic Period (1000 BC–500 BC). the Vedas. In some cases. One theory points to the migration of Indo-European tribes. They placed their dead in cofﬁns and then buried them in brick chambers with their heads pointing towards the north. dated between 1500 BC and 800 BC. provide extensive details of the Vedic Civilisation:The Rig-Veda. The jana was further divided into smaller segments called vish and grama. while later works such as the Sama-Veda. possibly from Central Asia. known as Aryans. Early Vedic Period The Aryans were tall and fair in appearance.BURIAL RITUALS The Indus people had an elaborate burial ritual. adorned with ornaments. with chiefs (sabha) and ruling councils (samiti). There were several janas.They organised their community into small tribal units called jana. in the presentday Indian states of Haryana and Punjab. Yajur-Veda and Atharva-Veda provide details about the subsequent years. It was spread across the Sapta Sindhu (Seven Rivers) region.
cattle and land. The janas developed into janapadas, small kingdoms with a supreme chief, the raja or king, who commanded the army. The king was assisted by the senani (army chief) and the purohita (chaplain), who took on the role of a medicine man, curing diseases with the use of incantation. The Aryans had a primitive nomadic culture and did not have knowledge of sophisticated urban planning as seen in the Indus period. Rather, their houses were simple structures built of mud. However, like the Indus people, the Aryans were skilled in making bronze utensils and weapons. Their main occupation was cattle rearing and agriculture. Cattle were highly valued and used as a medium of exchange in the barter system. The people also bred sheep, goats and horses, using the latter for their war chariots. Spinning, weaving and carpentry were other common trades.
Aryans Introduce the Caste System
The Aryans had a patriarchal society, with the father regarded as the head of the family and the mother occupying an inferior position. Monogamy was widely practised, and sons were coveted because the family heritage passed from father to son. It was during the Vedic period that India’s infamous caste system (varna) was born. Society was divided into separate classes based on occupation: the priests, known as Brahmins, were the dominant class and wielded the most power; the ruling and fighting classes were called Kshatriyas; traders and merchants were classified as Vaishyas and the labourers were known as the Shudras. Social distinctions became increasingly rigid and the classes developed into hereditary castes, with restrictions placed on intermarriage. The religious consciousness of the Aryans was highly developed, although they did not pray at temples or worship images. Their rituals consisted of burning fires at home, singing hymns to the gods, making offerings such as rice and milk and sacrificing animals.The Aryan gods included Varuna (Thunder), Surya (Sun), Agni (Fire), Vayu (Wind) and Usha (Dawn).
BRAHMA AND THE CASTE SYSTEM
According to popular belief, the four varnas were created from different parts of Brahma, the creator. The Brahmins were created from his mouth, the Kshatriyas from his hands, the Vaishyas from his thighs and the Shudras from his feet.
Later Vedic Period
In the Later Vedic Civilisation, agriculture became the main economic activity of the people while cattle rearing declined. Popular crafts developed into vocations and goldsmiths, ironsmiths and carpenters came to the fore; iron, especially, became a commonly used metal during this period. Another change was the merging of the numerous small kingdoms or janapadas to create 16 large ones known as the mahajanapadas or great kingdoms. This period also saw progress in political and economic organisation, with a tight-knit monarchy replacing the earlier tribal rule. Power moved from the rural to the urban centres where noblemen usurped positions of authority. Strides were made in religious thought too, with ideas from a new Hindu culture taking root. The Aryans used the Vedic Sanskrit language up to the 6th century BC, when their culture gradually began to shift to Brahmanism, an early form of Hinduism. This marked the end of the Vedic Civilisation.
LAWS OF MANU
The Brahmins, the most learned sect, laid down rules and regulations, customs, laws and rites for the rest of society in manuals called the Dharma-shastras. Of these the most ancient and most famous is the Manava Dharma-shastra (Laws of Manu), belonging to the ancient Manava Vedic school. The Laws of Manu comprises of 2,684 verses and deals with the norms of domestic, social and religious life in India.
The Mahajanapadas and the Kingdom of Magadha
Magadha was among the most powerful of the 16 Aryan kingdoms known as the mahajanapadas. It was also in Magadha where the religions of Buddhism and Jainism flourished in ancient times, posing a threat to the existing Brahmanism. Magadha was situated in north India, in modern-day Bihar and Jharkhand. Its capital was originally Rajagriha (now Rajgir) and later shifted to Pataliputra (now Patna). The kingdom gained prominence under the rule of Bimbisara (543 BC–491 BC), who was a contemporary and staunch supporter of the Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Rajgir is considered a sacred site in Buddhism as the Buddha spent many
years preaching there, delivering his sermons in Magadhi, the language of Kamboja Magadha and a dialect of Sanskrit. In Gandhara Kuru Panchala fact, the city was the venue of the first Surasena Koshala Malla Vajji Buddhist council held in 486 BC, after Kashi Magadha Matsya Vatsa Anga Avanti Chedi the Buddha’s passing.The third Buddhist Asmaka council was held at Pataliputra under the auspices of Emperor Ashoka of the Bay of Bengal Arabian Sea Maurya dynasty. Besides the political and religious developments, Magadha and other kingdoms in northern India also witnessed a growth in agriculture The Mahajanapadas between the 6th and 5th centuries BC. There was also considerable progress in commerce during this period. It was under King Bimbisara (543 BC–491 BC), who belonged to the Shishunaga dynasty, and later his son Ajatashatru, that Magadha achieved greatness. Bimbisara extended the empire by annexing the kingdom of Anga, now West Bengal, in the east. Ajatashatru, who was responsible for his father’s death, continued the expansion and built a fortress at Pataliputra during his war with the Licchavi republic. The expansionist Shishunaga dynasty was overthrown by the Nandas in 343 BC. The Nanda dynasty, founded by Mahapadma, ruled Magadha until 321 BC. when it fell to Chandragupta who made it the centre of his Maurya Empire. Later, in the 4th century AD, Magadha rose to prominence once again during the Gupta period.
A popular royal ritual was the horse sacriﬁce or Ashwamedha Yagna. In this ritual, the king’s horse, accompanied by warriors, was set free and allowed to go where it pleased for a full year. The territories covered by the horse during this period then came under the control of the king, with the warriors stepping in to enforce the king’s claim of sovereignty in the case of opposition from the local inhabitants. The horse was slaughtered at the end of the ritual.
Alexander’s ambitious plans were thwarted when he suddenly fell ill at Babylon and died in June 323 BC at the age of 33. he fought against the powerful Indian monarch Porus in the vicinity of the Hydaspes River (present-day Jhelum River) in the epic Battle of Hydaspes (326 BC). The Indians fought with elephants. in present-day Pakistan. 327 BC – 323 BC) Alexander the Great.ALEXANDER THE GREAT (r. arrived in Punjab in 327 BC. who believed in a fusion of different races. little trace of his empire was left after his death. In India. He promoted the dissemination of Greek customs in India and the rest of his empire in Asia. acknowledged as one of the greatest military strategists of his time. By 311 BC. a new phenomenon for the Greeks. After his victory. heading towards the Ganges River and the powerful kingdom of Magadha. He went south down the Indus River and attacked villages on the way. BUCEPHALUS—ALEXANDER’S FAVOURITE STEED Legends abound about Alexander and his favourite steed Bucephalus. Alexander struck an alliance with Porus and allowed him to continue to rule the kingdom. Alexander. but the memory of Secunder. was the first of the Greek conquerors to invade India. On the way. to conquer the region along the Indus River. was keen to make Asia and Europe a single country with Babylon as the capital. He encouraged intermarriage as part of his universal policy and married a Persian princess himself. Alexander set up numerous Greek settlements which facilitated trade and communication with other parts of his empire. Alexander the Great’s empire had split into independent states and monarchies. the battle-weary soldiers mutinied and Alexander was forced to change direction. Alexander and his men then pressed on. Alexander and his men reached the mouth of the Indus in July 325 BC. lived on for years to come. as he was called in India. Alexander lll. King of Macedonia. his generals became governors of different regions and fought amongst themselves for control of the empire. In the absence of a successor. He is said to have fought many battles to victory and committed HISTORY 27 . While in India. after conquering the vast Persian Empire. after which they turned westward to return home. Following the takeover of the cities of Taxila and Aornos in Punjab.
he and his son Bindusura extended the Maurya Empire north to the Himalayas.daring deeds while riding the horse. Through his conquests. became the capital of the empire. Due to its unified structure. Kautilya left behind Arthasastra. Chandragupta was able to unify India’s disparate kingdoms under a strong centralised government for the first time. which in turn grouped together into provinces administered by governors. who overthrew Danananda. The basic unit of Chandragupta’s administration was the village. After taking over Magadha. a scheming adviser who has been likened to Machiavelli. He founded the city of Bucephala in the region in the horse’s memory. Groups of villages made up districts. THE MAURYA DYNASTY (321 BC – 185 BC) CHANDRAGUPTA MAURYA: THE MONARCH WHO UNIFIED INDIA (r. also known as Chanakya. describing laws and administrative procedures and dispensing political advice. an acclaimed treatise on statecraft. Gradually. which had a headman and a village council. Alexander was heartbroken when Bucephalus died during the Battle of Hydaspes. the empire developed a strong economy. Pataliputra where the administration was located. Chandragupta concluded a peace treaty with Seleucus and gave the Greek 500 war elephants in exchange for the occupied territory. Chandragupta was aided in his conquest by his prime minister. It was in c. east to Persia and far south. with 28 . Chandragupta went on to conquer Taxila in neighbouring Punjab.305 BC that Chandragupta won over parts of Afghanistan from Alexander the Great’s satrap Seleucus and liberated the trans-Indus region from Greek occupation. Kautilya. Founded by Chandragupta Maurya. encompassing most of the subcontinent except for a small area in the south. leaving out only a tribal stretch near Kalinga. it had an efficient and highly organised bureaucratic structure complete with a civil service. the last king of the Nanda dynasty of Magadha to conquer the kingdom in 321 BC. 321 BC – 297 BC) The Maurya Empire was ancient India’s largest and most powerful sovereign state.
Chandragupta’s religious tolerance gave a fillip to social reform. Chandragupta eventually abdicated to become a Jain monk. similarly. He was succeeded by his son Bindusura who consolidated the power and influence of the empire before passing on the mantle to his own son Ashokavardhan.internal and external trade thriving and agriculture flourishing. 273 BC – 232 BC) Chandragupta’s grandson. the centre of a kingdom was the most challenging section to take over. He continued the conquests begun Ashoka’s Empire Arachosia Gandhara Saurastra Magadha Kalinga Andhra Arabian Sea Bay of Bengal 29 HISTORY . he said that just as the centre was the hottest part of the dish. He also made a significant contribution to the development of Indian culture. KAUTILYA’S STORY HELPS WIN MAGADHA According to legend. Ashoka was a fearless commander and a shrewd statesman who came to power in 273 BC. is regarded as India’s greatest emperor. He was the last major monarch of the Maurya dynasty and is best known for his espousal of Buddhism and for promoting it to the status of a world religion. Ashoka. then advance to the middle. To be victorious. This strategy worked and Chandragupta achieved victory in Magadha. Drawing an analogy between the dish and a kingdom. A paranoid ruler who constantly feared for his life. ASHOKA THE GREAT (r. Punchmarked silver coins with symbols from nature were in use in the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta was able to overthrow the Nanda dynasty in Magadha after drawing inspiration from a story related by Kautilya about a little boy and a plate of food. Kautilya advised Chandragupta to strike at the frontiers ﬁrst. Kautilya described how the boy stuck his hand into the middle of his favourite dish and burned his ﬁngers. known as Ashoka the Great for the respect he commanded in the kingdom.
Ashoka was hit by remorse at the bloodshed caused by his military and decided to renounce aggression forever. his bloody takeover of the state of Kalinga (now Orissa) in c. to China. However. in present-day Uttar Pradesh. The sculpture was eventually removed from the Ashoka Pillar and placed in the Sarnath Museum. in present-day Madhya Pradesh. Ashoka sent monks. declined after his death in 232 BC. The third Buddhist council at Pataliputra was held in 250 BC under Ashoka’s sponsorship. as well as his twin children Mahindra and Sanghamitra. proved to be a turning point in his life. The most notable of these was at Sanchi. and abolished forced labour. Known as the Ashoka Pillar. The Maurya Empire. After the council. The most renowned of Ashoka’s pillars was at Sarnath. He also banned hunting and unnecessary animal slaughter. 30 . to foreign lands to spread the message of Buddhism. On the political front.265 BC. as well as Afghanistan.by his grandfather. Ashoka also propagated Buddhism by building monasteries and dome-shaped monuments known as stupas. built to house relics of the Buddha. it is a column built with a sculpture of four lions on its head. He inscribed Buddhist teachings on stones and pillars as par t of his famous Ashoka Edicts. The sculpture is called the Lion Capital and was adopted as the national emblem of India under British colonial rule. it was a time when art and other creative pursuits flourished and the empire prospered. On the international front. extending the Maurya Empire to include present-day Bangladesh. Rise of Buddhism under Ashoka’s Patronage Ashoka helped spread Buddhism throughout his empire and beyond. and preached justice and non-violence (ahimsa). Ashoka converted to Buddhism and became one of its staunchest supporters. Ashoka improved relations with countries in Asia and Europe. Ashoka softened the laws introduced by his grandfather and father. His reign was marked by peace and stability. Japan and the Far East. which reached its pinnacle under Ashoka’s benign leadership.
as well as the religious and moral values and principles that were dear to his heart. The Kanva Dynasty (73 BC – 28 BC) Pusyamitra’s reign was marked by numerous military campaigns against the Yavanas. Vidisa. Under his rule. who was a follower of Brahmanism. after which his successors continued the dynasty until about 73 BC. Nepal. despite the government clampdown. who established the Kanva dynasty. the last Sunga leader. stretched from Pataliputra. Ashoka wrote about the reforms he introduced to create a just and humane society. a loose federal structure. Pakistan and Afghanistan. who attempted to invade the region from Bactria. POST-ASHOKA PERIOD The Sunga Dynasty (185 BC – 73 BC) The last Maurya ruler. In his edicts. was assassinated at a military parade in 185 BC by Pusyamitra Sunga. present-day northern Afghanistan. wisdom and remarkable achievements have lived on through the thousands of rocks and pillars he inscribed with his famous edicts. went on to establish the Sunga dynasty which ruled for about 100 years. The inscriptions are in the Brahmi script and have been found scattered across India. or the Indo-Greeks. the religion retained its following and continued to be practised in some areas. Jalandhara and Sakala. The Kanva reign in Magadha 31 HISTORY . was overthrown by one of his own ministers. Pusyamitra ordered the persecution of followers of Buddhism and the destruction of stupas and monasteries. However. control was decentralised and nuclear kingdoms were allowed to exist within the empire.Vasudeva Kanva. the capital. the commander-in-chief of the Mauryan armed forces. Pusyamitra ruled for 36 years. Devabhuti. Brhadratha. Buddhism went through a decline after reaching its heyday under Emperor Ashoka and his successors. While he continued the Mauryan practice of administering the provinces through princes.ASHOKA’S EDICTS Ashoka’s teachings. Pusyamitra Sunga. to Ayodhya. Pusyamitra’s empire.
the northern part of the Indian subcontinent was invaded by a series of foreign armies from Central Asia. during the decline of the Maurya dynasty. evident from excavated Indo-Greek coins and other archaeological remains. led by Greco-Bactrian leader Demetrius. who established the Indo-Greek Kingdom in the region in 175 BC. Greek. they lost power to invading foreign tribes. also known as the Andhras. The Indo-Greeks were the first to come. In the year 100. They were part of the Maurya Empire and founded their own kingdom in the north-western part of the Deccan plateau. The Satavahana Dynasty (28 BC – 250 AD) Members of the Satavahana dynasty belonged to the Andhra tribe. breaking up into small pockets ruled by different branches of the family. Buddhist and Hindu art. By 250. They regained the lost land in the year 200. and were eventually left with the present-day Andhra region of southern India. It was ruled by a succession of over 30 Hellenistic kings during almost two centuries of Indo-Greek rule. extended their territory across the northern Deccan to central India. with both Brahmanism and Buddhism being practised by the people. is credited with extending the power and influence of the Indo-Greek Kingdom. Of particular significance 32 . Gradually the Satavahana rulers. GREEK AND CENTRAL ASIAN INVADERS Indo-Greek Kingdom (175 BC – 10 BC) Beginning around 180 BC. prosperity and religious tolerance. the Satavahana kingdom had disintegrated.lasted until 28 BC when the region was taken over by the Satavahanas. languages and symbols came together in an interesting fusion during this period. Satavahana rule was marked by peace. One of his successors was Menander who. along with Demetrius. the Sakas. culture. Taxila in Punjab was one of the many capitals of the kingdom. Demetrius created a state which seceded from the powerful Greco-Bactrian Kingdom in Bactria (today’s northern Afghanistan). such as Satakarni l.
Kanishka is said to have convened the fourth Buddhist council in c. the most notable being the Kanishka stupa at Peshawar. who established their own kingdoms in the region. Hindu. Greek and Persian images. Maues. or Moga. which extended from northern India to Afghanistan and Pakistan. invading Parthian leader Gondophares established the Indo-Parthian kingdom. King of Gandhara.To this end.is Greco-Buddhist art which combines the realism of Hellenistic creativity with symbols of Buddhism. followed by the Yuezhis from China and the Parthians. Indo-Scythian.100. by the middle of the 3rd century.The Indo-Greeks vanished around 10 BC when the region was invaded by Central Asian tribes such as the Scythians. and developed Buddhist art by helping to establish the Gandhara School of Art. Kushan and Indo-Parthian Kingdoms The Scythians. Kanishka’s successors failed to maintain his power or influence. who conquered the area and set up the Kushan Empire. During his reign. Parthian rule only lasted until the year 75 AD when the region was annexed by the Kushans again. In the 1st century. with the capital at Peshawar. evidence of his religious tolerance. also known as Sakas. Like Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. Coins made during Kanishka’s rule were embellished with Buddhist. he made conquests in the Indian subcontinent and beyond. Kanishka was an ambitious monarch who was keen to control the entire territory of Central Asia. came to India from Central Asia in 10 BC in search of new territory after invading Bactria. However. in present-day northern Pakistan. 33 HISTORY . the Kushans were left with only Gandhara and Kashmir. He gradually extended his empire to the north-west. his empire stretched from the Pamir mountain range in Central Asia to Bengal in the Indian subcontinent. until the arrival of the Yuezhis from China. 78–111) The most powerful leader of the Kushans was Kanishka. Kanishka was known for his patronage of Buddhism. At its height. King Kanishka (r. he built Buddhist stupas. was one of the early Scythian leaders in India and ruled over Gandhara.
had become fragmented and divided into small kingdoms and republics. although the first known member of the Gupta clan was Sri Gupta. unified under the erstwhile Maurya dynasty. He gained control of the strategic Ganges Valley and proclaimed himself Maharajadhiraya. stocky form. THE GUPTA EMPIRE 320–550 Chandragupta I (r. 34 . In fact. Like his namesake Chandragupta Maurya. Hinduism was established as the major religion. science. Chandragupta I is credited with having founded the Gupta dynasty and the Gupta Empire. under the patronage of the monarchs. 320–335) The Gupta Empire came into existence in 320 AD at a time when the Indian subcontinent. the Gupta dynasty’s reign is known as the Golden Age in Indian history for the rapid strides made in education. Chandragupta I was a local chief in the kingdom of Magadha whose influence grew after a marital alliance with Princess Kumaradevi of the influential Lichchavi clan from present-day Nepal. and the hands were depicted resting in the lap in a gesture of repose. some of which were based on the Greek god Apollo. sculpture. muslin and linen exported to foreign lands. the grandfather of Chandragupta I. architecture. India’s past glory was revived in an atmosphere of peace and stability. The eyes in most of the statues were open with a circle between the brows. or with the right hand touching the earth. cotton. As India’s culture came into its own during this period.GANDHARA SCHOOL OF ART The Gandhara art style featured scenes from Buddhist texts and images of the Buddha. Under Gupta rule. either seated or standing. ‘King of Kings’. he set up his capital at Pataliputra and consolidated his empire across the Ganges Valley and Magadha. Images from this school showed the Buddha as a short. painting and Sanskrit literature. trade flourished and textiles became a booming industry with silk.
Chandragupta II. which lasted for nearly half a century. also called Vikramaditya. Samudragupta was known for his remarkable skill in poetry and music. He extended the Gupta Empire to Punjab in the north. Samudragupta. He was also known to be tolerant towards other faiths even though he himself followed the Hindu religion and was a devotee of Vishnu. who succeeded him.Samudragupta (r. He waged countless military campaigns during his rule. Samudragupta was succeeded by his son. Besides his militar y prowess. CHANDRAGUPTA II (r. Prabhavatigupta. Yaudheyas He also had patronage over the Vataka Pataliputra• Pundra Arjunayanas Empire in the Maharashtra and Madhya Vardhana Malavas Karuna Ujjain• Suvarna Pradesh region following the marriage Saurastra of his daughter. 380–415) The Gupta Empire reached its zenith under Chandragupta II who continued the expansionist policies of his father and grandfather. and was lauded for his creativity in literature and classical music. He composed many works of poetry during his reign. who was a weak ruler and had a brief reign. Coins that were minted during Samudragupta’s rule show him playing on the veena. Ramagupta was assassinated by his brother. Samudragupta is hailed as one of India’s greatest military geniuses and is referred to as the Napoleon of India. with Vataka ruler Rudrasena II. who was considered the greatest of the Gupta rulers. One of his greatest achievements was the defeat of the independent Shaka principalities in the Gujarat region of western India. was a statesman and a brilliant strategist. an Indian string instrument. Ramagupta. Chandragupta II was Bay of Bengal able to take the Gupta Empire to its Arabian Sea Map of Gupta Empire at end of 4th Centur y 35 HISTORY . 335–380) Chandragupta I’s warrior son. With these developments. Assam in the east and to the Deccan Plateau in the south.
In art and architecture. Buddhagupta and Vishnugupta. to its high phosphorus content. Most of the murals in the 30 caves are believed to have been created between 460 and 480. Kumaragupta ll. was the second capital of his empire. due. 36 . Chandragupta II was succeeded by his son. We have a detailed account of the opulence of Chandragupta II’s reign through the writings of Chinese Buddhist monk Fa Hsien who travelled to India in 399 in search of Buddhist texts. in 415. Ujjain. The Golden Age of Indian History The Gupta kings presided over the Golden Age in Indian history. were carried outside India to other parts of Asia by traders. The remaining Gupta rulers included Narasimhagupta. Kumaragupta. prosperity and political and cultural unity. considered the last of the great Gupta rulers. Kumaragupta ruled for about 40 years and was succeeded by Skandagupta. He also described the just nature of the Gupta administration and the vast spread of the empire. They depict the life of the Buddha and represent other scenes and symbols from Buddhism. He led a strong government in an atmosphere of peace. The famous Iron Pillar in Delhi is a legacy from the era of Chandragupta ll. It was originally located at a place called Vishnupadagiri near present-day Bhopal. Gold coins also provide evidence of the grandeur of Chandragupta II’s court. IRON PILLAR OF DELHI The Iron Pillar in the Indian capital Delhi is a metallurgical curiosity because it has withstood corrosion since it was built during the reign of Chandragupta II. Maharashtra. in Madhya Pradesh. apparently. It was under their benign leadership that India’s arts and sciences flourished as never before. These coins. Madhya Pradesh. The pillar is almost seven metres high with an idol of the mythical bird Garuda on top. bearing images of the Gupta rulers.height. the murals in the caves at Ajanta. strategically placed as it was to control the prosperous trade routes to the West. stand out for their skillful craftsmanship.
The Gupta rulers built universities. was rewritten during this period. Notable writers and poets from this period include Kalidasa. KALIDASA Kalidasa. Cambodia and Sri Lanka. Books on medicine. Noteworthy works from the Gupta period include Kalidasa’s masterpiece Abhijnana Shakuntala. particularly in the Sanskrit language. Kamasutra on the art of love by Vatsyayana. The Gupta rulers were great patrons of literature and poetr y. had pride of place among Indian universities of that period. near Patna. temples were built and dedicated to a particular god. or most learned men. Bihar. with the brilliant astronomers. veterinary science. began to appear in classical Sanskrit. a renowned collection of fables which is said to have inspired the Fables of Aesop and A Thousand and One Nights.358 days. Dandi. Under the new style of worship. considered as the greatest Indian poet and playwright. of Chandragupta ll’s court. the Mahabharata. The Buddhist monastery of Nalanda. Visakhadatta. Significant progress was also made in mathematics with the development of the Indian numerical and decimal system. Astronomy was a growing discipline. He excelled in lyric poetry and drama and is best known for his second play in Sanskrit. where it left a deep impact. dialects of Sanskrit. produced earlier in Prakrit. was believed to be one of the nine gems. monasteries and free hospitals to improve the quality of life of their people and provide them with new avenues of learning. Abhijnana Shakuntala. Most of the literary works sang the praises of Hindu gods. mathematics.1416 and the length of the solar year as 365. and Panchatantra. belonging to this age. Shudraka and Bharavi. which reached spectacular heights under their reign. 37 HISTORY . It was at this time that Aryabhata made his discoveries of pi as 3. Aryabhata and Varahamihira. astronomy and astrophysics were penned. a master of his craft.The Hindu epic.Trade helped to export the culture of the Gupta Empire to other countries such as Burma. Buddhist and Jain literature. as the tenets of Hinduism crystallised and the religion grew in significance under royal patronage.
The last of the Gupta kings. Vishnugupta. that the fragmented states of northern India came together again under the strong leadership of Harshvardhana. led by Mihirakula. By this time. signifying an end to the political unity the region had enjoyed. Kalidasa wrote three plays. Abhijnana Shakuntala and Vikramorvashe. the Huns. leaving the Guptas to rule over Bengal. in 606. was perceived to stretch from the Himalayas to the southern tip at Kanyakumari. as a single entity. POST-GUPTA PERIOD Harshvardhana: A Secular Scholar (r. hence his name meaning ‘Kali’s slave’. Skandagupta spent the last 12 years of his reign warding off attacks from the tribe. died in 550. the Mahabharata. a scion of the Vardhana dynasty of the kingdom of Thaneswar. ‘India’. 38 . tribals who originated from the north of China. Gujarat and Malwa. northern India was split into independent kingdoms once again. 606–647) It was decades later. Kalidasa is believed to have been inspired by the character of Shakuntala in the Hindu epic. fell prey to the Huns or Hunas. and two epic poems Raghuvamsha and Kumarasambhava. Kali rewarded him with an extraordinary gift of wit. Legend goes that Kalidasa was a devotee of the Hindu goddess Kali. the lyric Meghadutta. who reigned over a vastly diminished kingdom. Decline of the Gupta Empire and the Hun Invasion The Gupta Empire. The Huns had settled in nor thern and central India by 454 and posed a constant threat to the Gupta Empire. conquered Punjab. With the demise of the Gupta Empire. a forest nymph who bewitches King Dushyanta while he is out hunting. In 510. revolving around Shakuntala. Abhijnana Shakuntala is a poignant tale of love and separation. which endeared him to King Chandragupta ll. Malavikagnimitra. which considerably weakened the empire.an all-time classic of world literature which has been translated in many Indian and foreign languages. under the rule of Skandagupta.
Harshvardhana was only 16 when he ascended the throne upon the death of his father and brother. but the young monarch proved to be a unifying force and succeeded in building an empire stretching from Gujarat in the west to Bengal in the east and Kashmir in the north. Chinese Buddhist monk Hsuan Tsang, who visited India in 630 during Harshvardhana’s reign, is full of praise for the monarch, whom he describes as generous, talented and energetic. Harshvardhana was an able leader and administrator who kept in touch with his people by travelling extensively in his kingdom. He often visited his subjects in disguise so he could get a first hand view of their problems. He had a tolerant, secular approach to religion and was himself a follower of both Hinduism and Buddhism. In 644, he held a Buddhist Council at Kanauj, in Uttar Pradesh state during Hsuan Tsang’s visit. Like the Gupta rulers before him, Harshvardhana was a scholar who enjoyed literature and promoted it during his reign. He himself wrote several plays, with religion or comedy as the theme. Harshvardhana died in 647 without an heir. His death brought an end to the rule of the Vardhana dynasty in north India.
RISE OF THE RAJPUTS
The Rajput Kingdoms
The Rajputs are Hindu warriors who came into prominence in the 7th century in north-western and central India. Historians are divided as to their Chauhan Pratihara origins, with some claiming they are of Paramaar Aryan lineage, and others describing them as descendants of the invading Huns and Central Asian Shaka tribes. Bay of Bengal Arabian Sea According to one legend, the Rajputs emerged from a ritual fire to defend the Brahmin caste. The Rajputs are divided into four clans: Chauhan, Solanki, Parmaar and Pratihara. Each clan established a small independent kingdom in northwestern and central India and they fought amongst themselves for greater power and influence. Almost all the kingdoms in this region were ruled by
Rajputs, and their governments were feudal in nature. Each kingdom was split into provinces known as jagirs which were controlled by a jagirdar who was from the same clan as the king. One prominent leader of the Rajput Chauhan dynasty was Prithviraj Chauhan, who was extolled for his fearlessness and heroic deeds.
THE HEROIC DEEDS OF PRITHVIRAJ CHAUHAN
Prithviraj Chauhan became a romantic hero for the Rajputs when he fell in love with the daughter of his enemy, the king of the kingdom of Kanauj, and eloped with her. According to legend, the king wished to get his daughter married and held a gathering of prospective suitors for her to choose from. He purposely left Prithviraj out, using instead a statue to represent him. When the girl was asked to make her choice among the assembled men, she placed a garland around the statue. Prithviraj, hiding nearby, then rode in to the hall and gallantly carried her off to be his bride.
The Dark Age of India
The Rajputs are largely known for their valour and passion for battle, but the arts and architecture also blossomed under their regime. The Sun Temple at Konarak in Orissa, which is shaped like a stone chariot, exemplifies the creativity of this period. However, despite the heroism of the Rajputs and their patronage of the arts, this period is referred to as the Dark Age of India. This is because under the Rajputs, social evils such as the caste system were rigidly enforced. The severity of the caste system peaked during this period when many new castes were added to the original four. Child marriage, polygamy, the persecution of Buddhists and the practice of sati—widow immolation on her husband’s pyre—were other social evils that were rampant under the Rajputs. Female infanticide was also common because the Rajputs perceived the birth of a daughter as ignominious. One of the most celebrated women in Rajput history is Mira Bai, who was married at the age of 13 and left her home to devote her life to the Hindu god Krishna after the early death of her husband. The power and influence of the Rajputs diminished temporarily during the Mughal invasion in the 17th century. Under the British, many of the
Rajput princes maintained independent states in the region of Rajputana, now Rajasthan.
THE SOUTHERN KINGDOMS
The southern part of the Indian subcontinent was ruled by royal dynasties in relative peace and stability, even as north India was being conquered by foreign invaders. This region, with the Deccan Plateau at its core, stretches from the Vindhya range of mountains to Kanyakumari at the tip of India, and from the Arabian Sea in the west to the Bay of Bengal in the east. Trade with the Roman Empire and Arab merchants was a major source of revenue for the southern kingdoms, whose strategic location put them in greater contact with foreign lands. While the Satavahanas (also known as Andhras) dominated the Deccan Plateau, further south in Tamil Nadu, power was shared by the three warring kingdoms of Pandyas, Cheras and Cholas, after the decline of the Pallava dynasty. The Pandyas had control of Madurai, the Cheras controlled the south-western coast and the Cholas dominated Thanjavur. Tamil was the main language of these Dravidian rulers, and Tamil literature and poetry blossomed under their patronage. The Tamil kingdoms are known for their magnificent temples with idols of the gods cast in gold and silver, and embedded with jewels, as well as their palace culture, complete with musicians and dancers, known as devadasis, to invoke the gods. Hinduism was widespread in the south, but there were pockets of Christianity too, beginning in the 1st century when Jesus’ disciple St Thomas landed on the Malabar Coast and brought the message of Christianity to India.
The Pallava Dynasty (4th–9th Centuries)
The Pallavas established their capital at Kanchipuram by 325 and ruled the south for at least 500 years. Kanchipuram was called the Golden City for its temples, numbering over 100. It was also an important centre of Hindu and Buddhist culture. The Pallavas are best known for their patronage of Dravidian architecture, a splendid example being the Seven Pagodas of Mahabalipuram, the main seaport of their empire.
renowned Kerala philosopher Adi Shankaracharya founded the Vedanta School of thought that encouraged debate on the Vedas and propagated the philosophy of non-duality. but it was at the hands of the Chola kings that it suffered defeat in the 9th century. At around this time. or attaining the Supreme Consciousness (brahman) by detaching oneself from the material plane (maya or illusion). the capital of the kingdom. Vishnu and Shiva. His successor. Raja Raja l built enormous temple complexes at Thanjavur. The temple complexes became small townships where daily life and religious rituals were entwined. its paintings of Shiva and the monolith of Shiva’s steed. with each temple associated with a fascinating legend. The Chola Dynasty (9th–13th Centuries) The Chola dynasty gained prominence at the end of the 9th century after it overthrew the Pallava rulers.The temple. is unmatched in its size and splendour. and Hinduism saw a shift from the worship of Vedic gods to devotion to the trinity of Brahma. and the dynasty ended in 1279. The Chola years were marked by the blossoming of literature and the arts. particularly temple architecture.The Brihadeeswara temple. Raja Raja l brought stability to the kingdom and extended its power with the conquest Bay of Bengal Arabian Sea Pallavas Cheras Cholas of neighbouring Kerala and northern Pandyas Sri Lanka. dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Rajendra. is an invaluable cultural legacy of the Chola kingdom. the Nandi bull. the kingdom was in decline. Malaya and Sumatra. 42 .The Pallava kingdom was involved in constant battle with the Chalukyas of Badami. with its massive gateways.It was during this period that religious fervour reached its peak. took over the entire island of Sri Lanka and The Southern Kingdoms occupied areas in Burma.The Cholas reached the pinnacle of their power under Raja Raja Chola I (985–1014) and Rajendra I (1014–1042). By the 13th century.
a temple came up on that site. it appeared stuck to the ground. The dynasty was founded by Perumchottu Utiyan Cheralatan in the 9th century. Coimbatore and Salem. They were skilled in trade and grew in prosperity and influence to become the dominant southern power in the 13th century. perfumes. Poetry received royal patronage in the Pandyan kingdom. the largest and among the grandest temples in India. The Chera Dynasty (800–1300) The Chera kingdom extended over the Malabar Coast. instead of the son. Kadalpirakottiya Vel Kelu Kuttuvan. and a part of old Travancore. and power shifted from the Kerala and Tamil Nadu region to present-day Karnataka. Imayavaramban Nedum Cheralatan. The Pandya Dynasty and Vijayanagara The Pandyas occupied the present-day Madurai and Thirunelveli districts in Tamil Nadu. Arabia and even China thrived during the Chera reign with textiles. but it was his son.TEMPLE OF SRIRANGAM An interesting legend surrounds the temple of Srirangam. when the Hoysalas emerged. the wife and daughter inherited the family property. he placed it on the ground for a few minutes in Tiruchirappali to rest. in present-day Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Karur. who is enshrined in the temple reclining on a massive serpent. is considered the greatest Chera ruler. who made the kingdom powerful and extended its reach in southern India. When he tried to pick it up. and numerous assemblies of poets were held in Madurai to promote this literary 43 HISTORY . Under this system. mentioned in the great Tamil epic Silappadigaram. camphor and even elephants being exported. Trade with Persia. Madurai was the capital of the kingdom and the centre of Tamil culture. Thus. The unique matrilineal family structure of the Nair class prevalent in Kerala came into existence during the Chera rule. It is said that while the sage Vibhisana was carrying an idol of Vishnu to Sri Lanka. The dynasty lasted until the 12th century. It is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu.
His early campaigns took place in Punjab and north-eastern India. was the capital of the empire that lasted from 1336–1565. Later they were sent to the south to quell a rebellion and took the opportunity to seize the territory and establish their supremacy over it. Tolkappiyam. and extended its authority to western Punjab. he attacked Somnath in the western 44 . The Pandyan supremacy was shortlived. who ruled the Delhi Sultanate in the 14th century. They then converted back to Hinduism. looting Indian cities of their gold. a new onslaught from the Arabs was mounted in 997 by Mahmud of Ghazni.pursuit. jewels and other treasures. The Rajputs were successful in resisting the invaders and prevented their expansion into northern India. One theory suggests that it was established by two brothers. now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was built around the original religious centre of the Virupaksha temple at Hampi. in present-day Afghanistan. 997–1030) Mahmud. towards the end. is believed to have been written during the Pandyan reign. The brothers converted to Islam while in custody. Harihara and Bukka Raya. Mahmud of Ghazni (r.Vijayanagar (City of Victory). who ascended the throne at the age of 27. They were taken prisoner by Muhammad bin Tughlaq of the Tughlaq dynasty. art and literature during its rule. in present-day Karnataka. renowned for the development of music. BROTHERS HARIHARA AND BUKKA RAYA The origin of the Vijayanagara Empire is under debate. However. His soldiers destroyed temples and murdered the local people in wanton acts of aggression. the Pandyas were finally absorbed by the Vijayanagara Empire. led 17 raids into India in as many years. the son of a Turkish slave who became king of Ghazni. in present-day Pakistan. Attacked by Turkish armies in the 14th century. The earliest Tamil grammatical treatise. MUSLIMS INVADE INDIA The earliest Muslim invasion of India took place in the 8th century when an Iraqi-Arab army conquered Sind. reaching its peak of wealth and power during the reign of Krishna Deva Raya (1509–1529).
one of his generals. He conquered Punjab and Sind. 1175–1206) Mahmud of Ghazni’s descendants of the Ghaznavid dynasty ruled over a weakened kingdom until 1150. but later he shifted his capital to Delhi.state of Gujarat. spending the last years of his life warding off Central Asian tribes threatening his prosperous kingdom. THE DELHI SULTANATE 1206–1526 Mamluk (Slave) Dynasty (1206–1290) The Delhi Sultanate refers to the various Muslim dynasties. launched invasions into India in 1175. Rajput chief ’s Prithviraj Chauhan won the first battle against the forces of Muhammad of Ghur at Tarain in 1191 but suffered defeat during the second onslaught at Panipat the following year. A former Turkish slave. Mahmud of Ghazni succeeded in bringing Punjab and north-western India under Muslim rule. which ruled India from 1206 to 1526. when ‘Ala’ al-Din Husayn of Ghur overthrew the dynasty. The attack on the Somnath temple was particularly brutal. Lieutenant Qutb-ud-din Aibak declared himself the ruler of the Indian empire. Mu’izz al-Din Muhammad. The dynasties that succeeded the Slave dynasty include the Khilji (1290–1320). Tughlaq (1320–1413). He used the immense wealth he had amassed from the plundered Indian cities to enrich his kingdom of Ghazni. The temple itself. with hundreds of people crushed under the feet of elephants or taken as slaves. Sayyid (1414–1450) and Lodhi (1451–1526). was destroyed by the invaders and its cache of gold was looted. including Delhi. the Muslim forces were able to capture a large part of northern India. ‘Ala’ al-Din’s nephew. After Muhammad of Ghur was assassinated in Lahore in 1206. built mosques and palaces. known as Muhammad of Ghur. and with it the Delhi Sultanate came into being. The HISTORY 45 . set up colleges and laid out gardens. The seat of his power was at Lahore. He developed it into a major centre of art and culture. an architectural masterpiece with 14 domes and a majestic Shiva idol. beginning with the Mamluk (Slave) dynasty. Mahmud of Ghazni died in 1030. but met resistance from the Rajputs when he reached Rajasthan. With this victory. Muhammad of Ghur (r. Qutb-ud-din Aibak founded the Mamluk (Slave) Dynasty.
Qutb-ud-din The Dehli Sultanate was a pious Muslim who was called Lakh Baksh or ‘giver of hundred thousands’ for his generous nature. Sultan Balban. Raziya Sultan. and Balban (1266-1287) were the dynasty’s most distinguished rulers. retrieved lost territories and added new areas such as Malwa. Qutb-ud-din Aibak of the Slave Delhi• DELHI S U LTAN ATE dynasty was the first sultan of Delhi and is best known for building the famous Qutb Minar monument and the Qutbud-din mosque in Delhi. His son. During the reign of Sultan Iltutmish. His accomplishments included introducing a code of conduct at his court and building a strong army and defence structure. was the sultan for a year but proved to be incompetent. However. was a just ruler and a skilled warrior who rode at the head of her army in battle. The power of the Slave dynasty diminished after Balban’s death and a succession of weak leaders. considered the greatest military ruler of the Slave dynasty. a permanent capital was established at Delhi and political ties with Ghur. This helped protect the kingdom from the invading Mongols and other enemies. she was resented by her own people for being female and was murdered by one of her own palace guards. were severed. Iltutmish (1210–1235). in present-day Madhya Pradesh. After a succession struggle. the only Muslim woman to rule India. in the kingdom. was a strong administrator who ruled with an iron hand. his daughter Raziya Sultan (1237-1240) who ruled for four years after him. Qutb-ud-din’s Bay of Bengal Arabian Sea formal tenure as ruler lasted only four years. Uprisings and revolts by the nobles of the kingdom plunged the administration into chaos and confusion until 46 . cut short by his accidental death while playing polo.Sultanate had a total of 35 rulers from its beginning in the 13th century to its decline in the 16th century. with numerous forts. Qutb-ud-din’s son-in-law Iltutmish took over the reins of power. Iltutmish also consolidated the power of the kingdom. in Afghanistan. Aram Shah.
was built in memory of the saint Qutb-ud-din Ushi. The Qutb Minar was damaged in 1368 when it was struck by lightning. on a military campaign in southern India. he sent his general. Qutb-ud-din abolished the spy network and raised military wages. It measures 16 m at its base and is 79 m tall. was the most notorious of the Khilji sultans. in 1230. third and fourth storeys were completed by his successor and son-in-law. His rule was marked by unrest. who ruled from 1296 to 1316. He was an arrogant king who crushed the Hindus and established a network of spies to monitor discontent among the people. and eventually one of his own officers. upon his return. Ala-ud-din hatched a conspiracy to fulfil his own ambitions. each marked by a projecting balcony. in 1370 by Feroz Shah Tughlaq (1351–1388). but was unable to secure his throne. The Khilji Dynasty (1290–1320) Jalal-ud-din expanded the boundaries of his empire and was successful in suppressing the thuggees network of hoodlums engaged in murdering and robbing travellers in his kingdom during his six-year reign. The fallen top storey was replaced by two storeys. The tower was built in three stages.Thus began the reign of the Khilji Dynasty in the Delhi Sultanate. Ghiyas uddin Tughlaq. The Khilji Dynasty came to an end in 1320 with the death of the third and last Khilji sultan. In 1307. It has ﬁve storeys. When he despatched his nephew. wrested power and established the Tughlaq dynasty in Delhi. Iltutmish. literally meaning ‘axis minaret’.Jalal-ud-din Khilji of the Afghan Khilji tribe seized power in 1290. Malik Kafur. QUTB MINAR The Qutb Minar. 47 HISTORY . the fourth and the ﬁfth. to south India on a military campaign that resulted in the defeat of the major Deccan kingdoms. Sultan Qutbud-din Aibak completed the ﬁrst storey while the second. Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah. Ala-ud-din. He obtained great wealth from his raids and. who is buried close by. Ala-ud-din. He successfully repelled Mongol invasions during his reign and tightened control of northern and central India. murdered his uncle and became the sultan.
Ghiyas ud-din Tughlaq died unexpectedly in an accident. a visionary under whose rule the kingdom expanded deep into the south. to Sind in the west and Assam in the east. mosques and audience halls. is on the southern side. an architectural marvel in its time. with double-storied bastions and massive towers housing palaces. and served as a defensive structure as well as the imperial capital of Ghiyas ud-din Tughlaq. The capital was transferred from Delhi to Devagiri. introduced reforms in the field of irrigation and the currency system. though it now stands in ruins. PAGLA TUGHLAQ Muhammad bin Tughlaq earned the title Pagla Tughlaq for his numerous administrative and military blunders. and built numerous gardens and parks in the Sultanate.The Tughlaq Dynasty (1320–1413) Ghiyas ud-din Tughlaq’s reign was marked by political unrest and the constant threat of Mongol invasion from the north-western border. 48 . His cousin. In 1325. His empire stretched from Peshawar in the north and Madurai in the south. He was succeeded by his son. The fort was part of Tughlaqabad. he built the mighty Tughlaqabad Fort. the third city of Delhi. Firuz Shah. Muhammad bin Tughlaq died in 1351 of illness while trying to suppress a revolt in Gujarat. and for his harebrained schemes such as introducing copper and brass coins as currency that led to wide-scale forgery—the coins eventually had to be withdrawn. The city lies on the eastern outskirts of the fort and the tomb of Ghiyas ud-din Tughlaq. who was the third Sultan of the Tughlaq dynasty. but was moved back after two years for the lack of facilities at Devagiri. The Tughlaqabad Fort. The Tughlaq dynasty began to decline in 1398 when Mongol ruler Timur captured Tughlaqabad and plundered Delhi. To fortify his kingdom. built by the ruler himself. when the fort was completed. was completed in four years. Muhammad bin Tughlaq.
The Lodhis restored Delhi’s supremacy over north India and there was peace in the region until Lodhi Sultan Ibrahim (1517–1526) antagonised his nobles when he tried to introduce laws curbing their power. he succeeded in killing Ibrahim and capturing Delhi. He invaded Delhi in 1398. Timur tried to resurrect the Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan and conquered vast territories in Central Asia and Russia. Delhi saw a succession of rulers from the ranks of the nobles until 1414 when Khizr Khan founded the Sayyid dynasty and assumed control of the Sultanate. His invasion sounded the death knell for the Tughlaq Dynasty which collapsed. ﬁrst from Genghis Khan in 1219. Daulat Khan Lodhi. and two centuries later by his descendant. The Lodhi dynasty was founded by Afghan noble Bahlul Lodhi in 1451. in 1526. rebelled and asked Kabul ruler Babur for help. Mughal is the Persian word for Mongol and means ‘tycoon’. Babur. who was a descendant of Mongol leaders Timur and Genghis Khan. Timur or Tamerlane. Two centuries later. His son continued his policy of conquest. Babur’s conquest signalled the end of the Delhi Sultanate and the start of the Mughal Empire in India. the Mongols made annual excursions into northern India and systematically plundered its treasures. 49 HISTORY . He met Ibrahim’s huge army at Panipat. the governor of Punjab. It was in 1206 that Genghis Khan began his ambitious campaign to subjugate the world and invaded Pakistan. welcomed the opportunity to invade the Sultanate. The 15th century saw two dynasties at the helm of the Delhi Sultanate—the Afghan Sayyids who ruled for 30 years until 1448. From the 1240s. followed by the Lodhis. taking over Lahore and much of Pakistan and Afghanistan. used by an Islamic conqueror for the first time in the Indian subcontinent.The Sayyid and Lodhi Dynasties The Delhi Sultanate broke up after the Timur invasion and the provinces declared their independence. looting the city and killing thousands. His men were outnumbered. GENGHIS KHAN AND TIMUR The Delhi Sultanate was threatened by Mongol invasions during the greater part of its existence. but with the power of muskets and artillery. near Delhi.
poetic account of his illustrious life. creating several in Kabul. ruled India for about three Bihar Agra Allahabad Ajmer centuries. 1526–1530) Babur was a military genius who captured Delhi in 1526 and set about conquering the Rajput kingdoms in the Gangetic Plains. reached its height under his grandson. leaving behind a rich political Bengal Malwa Gujarat Khandesh and cultural legacy. Babur the Tiger (r. especially Persia. made a complete recovery while Babur died a few days later. Babur spent his last years. In 1527. and ended with Bahadur Shah II in 1858. he had become the new sovereign of India. It is said that when his son. as it turned out.THE MUGHAL EMPIRE 1526–1858 Kabul The Mughals. Lahore and Agra. The empire had its share of political machinations. It began with Babur. a candid. writing his autobiography. before his death at the age of 48. the Mughal dynasty oversaw a period of relative peace. rebellions and anarchy. and through Persia with Europe. Humayun. religious beliefs and The Mughal Empire (early 17th Centur y) governance. By the end of his military campaigns. stability and prosperity. fell seriously ill. Babur asked God to take his life and spare his son’s. he conquered a Rajput confederacy led by Rana Sangha with a decisive defeat and routed the joint forces of the Afghans and the Sultan of Bengal two years later. One of his first acts as monarch was to abolish cow slaughter since it was offensive to Hindus. Trade with the rest of the Islamic world. customs. Their reign was Berar marked by a number of remarkable monarchs who made a significant Bay of Bengal Arabian Sea contribution to India’s art. but unlike the disparate dynasties of the Delhi Sultanate. education. Babur was a man of learning and refinement who wrote poetry and was passionate about landscaped gardens. Akbar. descendants of the Multan Delhi Mongols. was encouraged during his regime. architecture. Humayun. Babur-Namah. 50 . He was a tolerant ruler who made peace with the southern kingdoms and allowed new Hindu temples to be built.
the young Akbar expanded the empire by conquering Gujarat. Akbar the Great (1556–1605) Akbar. the Hindu territories were under the control of the emperor but still largely independent—the British used the same model of governance when they took over India in the 18th and 19th centuries. He developed a system of autonomy to rule the imperial provinces and placed military governors in every region. With the able guidance of his guardian. built in a garden setting. Akbar also allowed Hindus to use their own law. and eventually broke away from conventional Islam 51 HISTORY . Bengal. has the distinction of being the first of its kind. and is believed to have had over 5. His favourite wife was a Hindu and the mother of his successor. rather than Islamic law.Humayun (1530–1539. lacking the political wisdom of his father. Humayun’s son and successor. In a radical move in 1564. Humayun’s tomb. he had removed the pilgrimage tax paid by Hindus travelling to pilgrimage sites the preceding year. he lost the empire his father had conquered to Afghan noble Sher Shah and went into exile in Iran. Bairam Khan. However. Kashmir. and tried to find a unifying element in all the faiths that were practised in his kingdom. he ruled for only six months before he broke his neck during a fall and died. 1555–1556) Babur was succeeded by Humayun who proved to be an inept ruler.000 wives. Sher Shah’s empire collapsed and Humayun returned to Delhi to restore the power of the Mughal dynasty. He also placed Hindus in key positions in his administration to unify Hindus and Muslims in the empire. he married Rajput princesses. to regulate themselves. Hindus. Sind and Rajasthan. To foster good relations with the Hindu-ruled kingdoms. He went on to rule the empire for 49 years. Akbar was only aged 13 when he became the head of the powerful Mughal Empire after the sudden death of his father. He sponsored debates at his court between Christians. is regarded as the greatest ruler of the Mughal Empire. Akbar abolished the hated jizya tax levied on non-Muslims. Zoroastrians and Jains. In 1555. In 1539. located in Delhi. It is listed as a World Heritage Site. According to this system. Akbar believed in freedom of worship and religious tolerance. Jahangir.
and came up with a new religion, Din-i Ilahi or ‘The Religion of God’. The religion was based on Islam and contained aspects of Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Hinduism: from Jainism, it took the principle of respect and care for all living things, while borrowing the Zoroastrian concept of sun worship and divine kingship. The religion died with Akbar in 1605. Shunning Agra, Akbar built the sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri (City of Victory) as the new capital of his kingdom. However, he abandoned Fatehpur Sikri after just 14 years because of problems with the water supply. The city remains in good condition even today, constituting a significant legacy of Akbar’s rule. Located west of Agra in Uttar Pradesh, it is a synthesis of Hindu and Muslim architecture. It holds a mosque, a palace, sprawling gardens, public buildings, bath houses, a worship hall for Din-i Ilahi and a tomb for Akbar’s religious advisor, Shaykh Salim Chishti. Akbar was particularly indebted to Chishti because he foretold the birth of the Mughal emperor’s first son. Art, particularly miniature paintings, blossomed under Akbar’s patronage, as did music. Singer Mian Tansen, who created classical North Indian music for Akbar, was one of the nine gems of his court, and a particular favourite. Birbal who specialised in wit and humour, was another gem of Akbar’s court.
AN ILLITERATE CONNOISSEUR OF LITERATURE
Akbar never formally learned to read or write but was a connoisseur of literature. Hindi literature grew in popularity, with Tulsi Das being one of the most celebrated Hindi writers of that period. Sanskrit texts were studied extensively and translated into Persian. Akbar also established numerous institutions of learning throughout his kingdom, notably in Delhi, Agra and Lahore.
Jahangir (r. 1605–1627)
Akbar was succeeded by his son, Jahangir, who reinstated Islam as the state religion while continuing Akbar’s policy of religious tolerance. Jahangir did not pursue military conquest as forcefully as his father, but he did manage to assert Mughal rule over Bengal in eastern India. Jahangir’s tenure is considered the richest period of Mughal culture, and he is best remembered for the magnificent monuments, buildings and gardens he built. His reign was also a
period of opulence with luxurious palaces, lavish festivities and processions of silk-caparisoned elephants. Jahangir, known to be both tender and brutal, loved nature and art and lavished money on both. Along with his favourite wife, Nur Jahan, he patronised the arts and encouraged artists to create a unique Mughal style of miniature painting. Nur Jahan took charge of many of the palace affairs while Jahangir indulged in his pleasures, such as drinking arrack, a local alcoholic brew laced with opium. When Jahangir died in 1627, it was Nur Jahan’s son, Shah Jahan, who ascended the throne.
Shah Jahan: the Emperor who Built The Taj Mahal (r. 1627–1658)
Shah Jahan’s biggest legacy is the magnificent buildings he built, notably the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort and the Red Fort. His opulent golden, jewel-encrusted throne was known as the Peacock Throne, named after its canopy held by 12 pillars decorated with peacocks. Shah Jahan was also as keen on conquest as his ancestors; the empire began to expand once more during his reign. As part of his military pursuits, he quelled a Muslim rebellion in Ahmadnagar defended by Maratha noble Shaji Bhonsle, and annexed the territory. He also tried to destabilise the Deccan sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda by creating trouble between the Maratha chieftains and the sultans. Shah Jahan was responsible for shifting the seat of power from Agra back to Delhi. Shah Jahan was devastated by the death of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, in 1631, during the birth of their 14th child. Thereafter, he devoted all his time to building monuments across the kingdom, notably, the worldfamous Taj Mahal. Located in Agra, this mausoleum to his wife was started in 1632 and took almost 20 years to complete. Shah Jahan also built Shahjahanabad, the area that is present-day Old Delhi, which was the seat of Mughal power in Delhi. Shahjahanabad holds the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. The Red Fort, built of massive blocks of sandstone, took ten years to complete. It consists of public and private halls, marble palaces, a mosque and lavish gardens. Despite attacks by the Persian Emperor Nadir Shah in 1739, and by British soldiers in 1857, the Red Fort still stands as a striking symbol of Mughal rule in Delhi.
Shah Jahan is best known for the exquisite Taj Mahal, his labour of love for his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It took 20,000 labourers to complete the marble structure that is set in a Persian landscaped garden on the banks of the Yamuna River. The site was selected because of its location on a bend in the river, so that it could be seen from Shah Jahan’s palace at the Agra Fort. Shah Jahan engaged labourers and artisans, and sourced marble, sandstone and semiprecious stones used for the marble inlay work from all over India and abroad. The pure white marble came from Makrana in Rajasthan, crystal and jade from China, lapis lazuli and sapphires from Sri Lanka, carnelian from Baghdad and turquoise from Tibet. The master mason came from Baghdad. The Taj Mahal is made up of four minarets surrounding a central dome. An ornate marble screen, ﬁnely carved to produce the appearance of lace, surrounds the cenotaph in the central hall. The actual graves of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan lie in an underground crypt directly below the cenotaphs. The white monument reﬂects the changing light of the day, dazzling one minute, glowing the next and shimmering in the moonlight.
Aurangzeb: the Last of the Great Mughal Rulers (r. 1658–1707)
Shah Jahan fell ill in 1658 and was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb in Agra shortly afterwards. Aurangzeb then executed his elder brother and captured the throne, declaring himself as the ruler of the vast Mughal Empire. Shah Jahan died a few years later in 1666. Aurangzeb, the last of the illustrious Mughal rulers, expanded the empire to its fullest extent. He seized the southern kingdoms of Golconda and Bijapur and captured all the territories held by the Marathas who continued to resist using guerrilla warfare tactics. He eventually established a state in the Western Ghat region in south-west India, in present-day Maharashtra. Aurangzeb was a pious Muslim who ended the policy of religious tolerance advocated by his ancestors. He insisted that the sharia (Islamic law) be followed by everyone and he reimposed the jizya tax on non-Muslims
India was divided into regional states which. Against all odds. and beheading the ninth guru of Sikhism. The Mughal Empire officially came to an end in 1858 when the last ruler. they had succeeded in carving out an independent kingdom with the capital at Lahore. A staunch Muslim. Aurangzeb withdrew lavish state support of the arts although he continued to patronise intellectuals and architects whose works—such as the Pearl Mosque in Delhi—were related to Islam. creating considerable unrest among Hindus. Bahadur Shah II. By the time Ahmad Shah took over the Mughal throne in 1748. By the early 1800s. he destroyed hundreds of Hindu temples and other non-Muslim places of worship during his rule of terror. He was responsible for crushing a Hindu religious sect. Shivaji instilled patriotism and devotion to Hinduism in his people and inspired them to rebel against Aurangzeb’s tyrannical policies. One of his four sons. the indomitable Shivaji established a Hindu kingdom in 1674 and declared himself Chatrapati or the King. was deposed by the British and exiled to Burma. constant conflict and a depleted treasury. Bahadur Shah I. Among other unpopular moves. The Sikhs. The subsequent Mughal emperors were ineffectual puppet leaders who merely had a nominal presence.that Akbar had abolished. However. revolted against Aurangzeb’s rule and continued their hostilities towards the empire. Aurangzeb forbade drinking and gambling in his empire and imposed Islam on his subjects. the Satnamis. wielded considerable power and influence. Aurangzeb died in 1707 at the age of 88. Tegh Bahadur. religious reformers who turned militant under the Mughals. in present-day Maharashtra. THE RISE OF THE MARATHAS The ﬁrst major threat to Aurangzeb’s authority came from the Marathas. a powerful group of warriors operating in the Western Ghat region. He extended 55 HISTORY . the power of the empire was all but extinguished. He also introduced a new custom duty and levied a higher rate of tax on non-Muslims. while recognising the nominal supremacy of the Mughals. leaving a Mughal empire weakened by growing unrest among Muslims and Hindus. took over control of the empire but it never regained its past glory. under Shivaji Bhonsle.
as well as British imperialism at a later stage. it had expanded substantially because of advances in transport. The Dutch. Pack animals were used to transport goods over land along the designated spice and silk routes. Maratha leader Bajirao II ﬁnally submitted to the British on 3 June 1818. who was captured and killed by Aurangzeb. who occupied the ofﬁce of Resident (Pune) in 1811. They were forced to find an alternate route to India after the traditional trade routes were closed by the Ottoman Empire. power passed to the Peshwas. By the 1st century. Indian goods also found their way to Western nations such as Italy. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to land by sea in India at the end of the 15th century. French and British 56 . The Maratha power declined after this battle and was further crippled by the British. trade between India and the ancient Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire was extensive. cloth and even live animals and birds from India in exchange for gold coins. In subsequent years. via the Arab lands. Wealthy Romans bought spices. THE ARRIVAL OF THE EUROPEANS Trade in spices. In the early 18th century. the subsequent Maratha leaders remained steadfast in their goal of a Maratha homeland and continued to rebel against the Mughals. China and South-east Asia. Interest in Indian goods prompted the Europeans to travel to India in the 15th and 16th centuries to net lucrative trading opportunities.his territory to claim Nasik and Poona in the east and Vellore and Tanjore in the south. At the turn of the century. Nana Saheb was a Peshwa who became one of the most powerful rulers in India. Despite their setbacks. while sturdy vessels were used for the sea. who were prime ministers under the descendants of Shivaji. led by Mountstuart Elphinstone. Rajasthan and Punjab. with an empire that extended from the Deccan to Gujarat. cotton. signalling the end of the glory of Maratha power. silk and other goods played a key role in relations between India and other countries in ancient times. He died shortly after the Third Battle of Panipat when Afghan armies led by Ahmad Shah Durrani defeated the Marathas. Shivaji died at the age of 53 and was succeeded by his son Shambaji.
57 HISTORY .The Portuguese were also unable to compete with the other Europeans who had landed in India looking for lucrative trading opportunities. who had set up their East India Company in the region.came later. Trade with these European companies enriched kingdoms such as Bengal and Bihar. Trade Wars Following the example of the Portuguese. arrived in India in search of trade in the early 17th century. The Portuguese Traders Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama took a circuitous route around Africa. A second Portuguese expedition led by Pedro Alvares Cabral travelled to India a few years later and set up a trading post in Cochin. in May 1498 to trade in precious Indian spices. Daman and Bombay into the Portuguese fold.They established their first trading post near Chennai. rebelled against the foreign colonisers and weakened their hold in India. venturing further afield along the western coast right up to Bengal. which they retained until 1961. crossing the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa to land at the western Indian port city of Calicut. which inspired others to make the trip to India. he captured Goa from the Bijapur Sultanate and made it the Portuguese seat of power in India. except for Diu. The goods he took back to Lisbon brought him a huge profit. The Portuguese gradually lost all their territories. his successors brought Diu. Franciso-de-Almedia was the first governor of Portuguese affairs in India and led the Portuguese colonising efforts until Alfanso-de-Albuquerque. was appointed governor in 1509. The local people. the commander of a squadron. Dutch merchants. Daman and Goa. forced to embrace Christianity after the arrival of Spanish priest Francis Xavier in 1542. However. which were independent of the weakened Mughal Empire. the Portuguese desire to make quick profits and their zeal in spreading Christianity worked against them. Alfanso-deAlbuquerque was a capable leader who consolidated Portugal’s position in India. attracted by the prospect of huge profits to be made in India. Soon the Portuguese had trading posts all along the west coast and controlled the entire trade in the Indian Ocean. After Alfanso’s death in 1515. Kerala. Shortly after taking over as governor.
The French also made inroads into India for commercial purposes. reaping huge profits. Chandannagar was incorporated in West Bengal state in 1949. The two countries were bitter rivals and entered local power struggles.The French. they returned Pondicherry to the French. lured by the spices. They slowly gave up their possessions in India to concentrate on this region. silks. under Joseph Francois Dupleix. and their first trading post at Pondicherry in the south in 1664. were victorious in India. The three southern enclaves and the town of Pondicherry together form the modern union territory of Pondicherry. and opened Protestant missions there. the Dutch set up a printing press in Serampore. However. It set up a chain of factories all over the country and. It also began to intervene in Indian politics to enhance its profits and secure its possessions. The turning point in the 58 . They established a factory in Surat.The company arrived in India in 1608. The British East India Company (1608–1858) The British East India Company was set up in 1600 by a group of merchants to facilitate trade with Asia. led by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Clive. Gujarat. Their rivalry in India was a prelude to the worldwide Seven Years War (1756–1763) that the two European powers were involved in. Its main target was the East Indies. it brought in soldiers to defend itself from the harassment of local princes. Yanam and Mahe in the south and Chandannagar near Calcutta in the east. went on an expansionist drive and acquired Karaikal. by the middle of the 18th century. but when its power and influence grew. but the British were unable to break the Dutch stranglehold on the spice trade there and turned their attention to India instead. Ultimately the British. But their real interest lay in the East Indies where they found it more profitable to trade in spices. Bengal. Much of its success was achieved through plunder and manipulation.In 1616. and it remained a district of France until 1954 when the Indian government took over its administration. had overtaken its rivals to become a major commercial entity. The French struggled for trading supremacy with the British during the greater part of the 18th century. jewels and the cheap labour available. The company was initially not interested in conquest. particularly in the southern kingdoms where they helped install rulers friendly to their interests.
and banned thuggees. The new British governor generals instituted a variety of reforms in India. Widow remarriage was allowed by law and the ancient Devadasi tradition. Another significant event was the Battle of Buxar in 1764 in which the British company defeated a group of Indian princes. He was killed by the British in May 1799 while defending his capital Seringapatam during the Fourth Mysore War. English was made the official language of the country and a number of Christian missionary schools and institutions of higher learning were built to provide English education. It tightened its control on the company by appointing Warren Hastings as governor general of Bengal in charge of affairs in India. Under Lieutenant Colonel Robert Clive. the company indulged in large-scale plunder. it set out to expand its territorial acquisitions. the British government recalled Clive. ﬁrst under his father Haider Ali and later as the sultan of Mysore after his father died. As its political and commercial power grew. Lord William Bentinck. abolished sati. armed gangs who robbed and killed travellers. and Tipu fought in all four. It also banned discrimination against Indians who were in government employment. In other changes brought about by the British government. Concerned about the atrocities and exploitative practices of the company. in which women were ‘married’ to temple deities and trained in dance and music to entertain the Lord was banned. who posed a serious threat to the rapidly spreading power and inﬂuence of the British East India Company. Mysore was involved in four wars with the British. 59 HISTORY .company’s affairs in India came when company troops defeated a rebellious prince at the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and the British East India Company became the ruler of Bengal. parliamentary acts of 1813 and 1833 ended the company’s trade monopoly. the practice of widow self-immolation. TIPU SULTAN: THE TIGER OF MYSORE Tipu Sultan was the Muslim ruler of the southern kingdom of Mysore. extortion and atrocities against anyone who rebelled against its rule. who was governor general from 1828 to 1835.
RANI OF JHANSI Lakshmi Bai. including Jhansi. and subdivided into districts. which was divided into provinces such as Madras. which in turn limited the growth of the economy. He made radical changes in Hindu law. assembled an army of volunteers and fought fearlessly when the British invaded Jhansi in March 1858. determined to defend her kingdom. on 21 November 1853. it taxed the public heavily and asked for more tribute from the independent states. had roads and irrigation systems constructed and founded the Post and Telegraph Department. The territories annexed by the company formed British India. For this purpose. In 1857. the British government dissolved the British East India 60 .The states that were not under direct British rule retained their own monarchs but were required to follow the orders of the British. Calcutta became the capital of the British East India Company’s Indian territories. as it resulted in a number of independent states. coming under the control of the British. Maharaja Gangadhar Rao. she was defeated but she managed to escape dressed as a man with her son strapped to her back.This caused widespread public discontent and unrest. the queen of the kingdom of Jhansi. The company required more revenue to sustain its expansionist policies as British India grew in size. Lakshmi Bai. councillors. was one of the heroines of the nationalist movement. terminating the right of an Indian ruler to adopt his heir.This change in law was widely unpopular. district collectors and other officials in these provinces were part of the Indian Civil Service (ICS) introduced by Lord Cornwallis when he was governor general. She was just 22 years old. as governor general. The British refused to accept the Maharaja’s adopted son as his heir and decided to annex Jhansi. Despite her best efforts. unhappy Indian troops in Bengal revolted against British rule. She became a widow at the age of 18 after the death of her husband. Governors. Indians were not allowed in the ICS until the 1860s.Lord Dalhousie. Bengal and Bombay. The British caught up with her in neighbouring Gwalior and she died ﬁghting on 18 June 1858. In 1858. or Rani of Jhansi.
gave away the famous Kohinoor (Mountain of Light) diamond to the British to adorn Queen Victoria’s crown. It belonged to the king of Malwa in the 14th century and fell into the hands of Muhammad bin Tughlaq in 1323. the Sikhs fought their ﬁrst war with the British and had to give up part of their empire. paving the way for the British Raj. The 106-carat diamond was acquired by Ranjit Singh as part of his booty during a military campaign in Afghanistan. as well as by Hindus and Muslims. But his request was not carried out. the Kohinoor diamond originated in the diamond-producing region of Golconda in Andhra Pradesh. It is now on display at the Tower of London. The kingdom was inhabited by Sikhs. THE SIKHS AND THE KOHINOOR DIAMOND The Sikhs formed a powerful empire in Punjab during British company rule and were united under Ranjit Singh who was known as the ‘Lion of Punjab’. According to legend. It was at this time that Maharaja Duleep Singh. Under Ranjit Singh’s will. the diamond was to be given to a Hindu temple in Orissa.Company and assumed direct control of its Indian affairs. Ranjit Singh encouraged agriculture and supported commerce and industry in the state. after capturing Lahore in 1799. and he enjoyed amicable relations with the British. Ranjit Singh was the chief of the Sukerchakia clan and established the Sikh kingdom of Punjab. 61 HISTORY . His empire was peaceful and prosperous. the empire fell into disarray and six years later. It later came under the possession of Mughal Emperor Babur but was plundered by Nadir Shah of Persia and taken to Afghanistan from where Ranjit Singh brought it to the Punjab. the dominant group. a minor under the guardianship of his mother. He built up a formidable army and gradually expanded the empire to include parts of Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir in the extreme north. in 1845. After his death in 1839.
The common man was tired of the harsh land policies of Governor General Lord Dalhousie and his successor. growing into a large-scale rebellion against British rule. the steady expansion of the company holdings and the growing westernisation that threatened Indian culture. referred to as the British Raj. which had a cardboard cartridge. the soldiers refused to use the rifles. was a significant milestone in the history of British rule in India. The first spark occurred in the Bengal Army. Indian soldiers had a multitude of grievances. When rumours began to spread that the waterproofing grease of the cartridge was made of beef or pork fat. Madras and Bombay. It brought an end to the corrupt and excessive practices of the British East India Company and marked the beginning of the direct rule of the British crown. The Crown Takes Charge The Sepoy Mutiny was confined to the northern part of the country where there was more dissatisfaction compared to Calcutta. On 10 May 1857.This angered the other soldiers who shot the British officers. but the rebellious mood persisted. Soldiers were required to bite off the end of the cartridge to load the rifle. chief among them dissatisfaction with the denial of foreign service allowances and postings to Burma and other places outside India. The mutiny was triggered by pent-up resentment against the governance of the British East India Company. Lord Canning. Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. 85 soldiers at the army camp in Meerut were imprisoned for refusing to use the new rifles. Uttar Pradesh. making it religiously impure for both Hindus and Muslims. The British authorities allowed them to make their own waterproofing. also known as the Sepoy Mutiny. 62 .THE BRITISH RAJ Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 The Indian mutiny of 1857.The mutineers were joined by other soldiers and Mughal nobles as the uprising spread to Haryana. where they proclaimed Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II as their leader. The final trigger was the new rifle given to soldiers. took over the camp and marched to Delhi.
To enhance internal security. hospitals and houses for comfortable living. the British government dissolved the British company in India and assumed control of Indian affairs.They indulged in sports. parties and picnics with the help of cheap domestic labour. By the end of 1858. the British moved to the cooler hill stations such as Simla and Nainital. One of their immediate tasks was to woo back the educated and elite classes and the princely states. The seat of power of the British Raj. as it was during the days of company rule. As a direct fallout of the mutiny. During the hot summer months. and their numbers were increased in India. Rural leaders received judicial powers while members of the elite were made magistrates and knights in the cities. who were Indian in 63 HISTORY . remained at Calcutta until 1911 when it was shifted to Delhi. His representative in India was the governor general who was given the title of viceroy. Nonetheless. churches. Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1876. Bahadur Shah II was exiled to Burma for supporting the mutineers and the Mughal Empire officially came to an end. the Indian Army began recruiting soldiers from communities such as the Sikhs and Punjabi Muslims who had helped them in their fight against the mutineers. The British developed cantonments as secure.which had enjoyed a greater measure of prosperity under company rule. The British influence produced a new breed of Indians. the mutineers defeated and control wrested back by the British. before turning its attention to the business of governing India. These communities had markets. where they developed residential colonies. Society and Economy under British Rule The British executed thousands of suspected rebels after quelling the mutiny. self-contained residential townships for their officials and their families. the British soldiers retained exclusive charge of the artillery.The princes received land and titles and guarantees that their states would not be annexed by the British. It appointed a secretary of state for India who was chosen by the British prime minister and answerable to the British Parliament. the rebellion was finally contained.
helped improve literacy in English and the Indian languages. India supplied 20 per cent of Britain’s wheat requirement and 59 per cent of its tea. Over 70 per cent of the population worked in agriculture and reaped profits from the exports of raw cotton. who propagated the belief in one all-knowing God while denouncing image worship. The Sikhs formed their own Singh Sabha in 1873 to teach people about Sikhism and to win back Sikhs who had converted to other religions. tea and grain. which gained momentum by the 1920s. The growth of the economy was enhanced by the development of the railways.Tea was grown mainly on British-owned plantations. Knowledge of English and exposure to Western culture encouraged Indian intellectuals to form their own associations to reform society and shape religious beliefs and practices. While the foundation for these movements was laid in the early years of the 19th century. reformer Swami Dayananda Saraswati. By the 1890s. These associations spread their messages in India as well as overseas. REFORM MOVEMENTS The British had a major influence in the genesis of the reform movements in India. However. mannerisms and the way they spoke. the Upanishads. particularly in the West. They were informally referred to as ‘Brown Sahibs’. jute. the poorer classes received few benefits under the British and made little progress.appearance but English in taste. to spread the message of social service and the teachings of the ancient Vedic scriptures. In 1875. primarily dependent on agriculture. founded the Bombay Arya Samaj (Society of Aryans). grew steadily during British rule. called Swami Vivekananda. where the Ramakrishna Mission had particular impact. Education reforms. telegraph and cheap postal service. The Indian economy. while landowners and businessmen grew affluent. 64 . The movement encouraged its followers to speak Hindi and adopt the ways of the Vedas. the movements gained momentum and expanded during the British Raj. The Arya Samaj became very influential over the years and had almost two million followers by 1947. power looms were being installed in textile factories in Bombay and this became an important manufacturing industry in the country. Another successful movement was the Ramakrishna Mission founded in 1897 by Narendranath Datta.
Roy went to Britain as an ambassador of the Mughal Empire in 1831 and died there of meningitis two years later. Believing in one God—Brahma—Roy founded the Brahmo Samaj (Association of Brahma) to reform Hinduism and check the spread of Christianity. polygamy and infanticide. Seventy-two people attended the first meeting of this new group 65 HISTORY . He challenged the caste system and condemned social evils such as sati. while advocating a Hinduism devoid of idol worship. These different forces laid the foundation for the rise of nationalism in India. orthodox rituals and superstitions.Caste-based associations were also formed during this period. One of the first nationalist groups to emerge was the Indian National Congress. they believed that they. Indian National Congress The Indian National Congress came into being in December 1885 with the aim of playing a role in the governing of India and pressuring the Britishled government to bring about reforms and remedy the grievances of the public. should be in control of India. and these groups lobbied the government to further their own interests and protect their members. RAM MOHUN ROY An eminent social and religious reformer of the early 19th century. Well versed in English and Western thought and ideas. RISE OF INDIAN NATIONALISM Even as social and religious reform movements were gathering momentum in India. Ram Mohun Roy was an intellectual who had a major impact on politics. and not the British. public administration. a nascent nationalism was taking root among young educated Indians from the upper and middle classes. Roy is sometimes called the Father of Modern India for his signiﬁcant contributions to the development of modern Indian society. the press and education. One such group was the Non-Brahmin Movement which protested against the large number of Brahmins in government employment.
The party went on to form the first government in independent India in 1947. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. men and women who steered the country on the road to freedom and later governed it as an independent nation. predominantly Hindu. with members from almost every religious.This led to his arrest and enabled Gokhale to consolidate his position in the Congress party. By 1907. expressed opposition to the British division of Bengal on religious lines. became a mass organisation.of the Indian educated elite convened in Bombay.The moderates were also opposed to the partition of Bengal but preferred to maintain good relations with the British so as to solve the dispute. the party had split into two. Bombay lawyer Pherozeshah Mehta. Dissension appeared in the ranks of the party in 1906 when a group of radical members. the party met every December in a different city. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. the Congress. led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The party started out by passing resolutions at its annual meetings. Mehta and Banerjea were followers of Londonbased businessman and nationalist Dadabhai Naoroji. a Bengali who was among the first Indians to pass the entrance examination for the ICS. In response to the demands of the Congress. Subsequently. Some of the illustrious Congress presidents after Gokhale were Dr Annie Besant. going their separate ways. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Dr Rajendra Prasad. The main organisers of the party present at the historic first meeting were Allan Octavian Hume. economic and linguistic group. Its first president was Womesh Chandra Banerjee. and Surendranath Banerjea. Sarojini Naidu. which the British tried to address. Dr Rajendra Prasad was India’s first president and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru its first prime minister. the government raised the age limit for the ICS examination to 23 and introduced indirect elections to the legislative councils. and the moderates led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale. 66 . a British theosophist and retired officer of the ICS. Tilak took an aggressive stance and instigated his followers to confront the British. The Congress has produced some of the greatest leaders in modern Indian history. Mahatma Gandhi. ethnic. Under Gandhi. with Tilak and his radicals.
the party became a powerful force in Indian politics. poorly represented in the Hindu-dominated Indian National Congress and anxious about Hindu domination. By 1940. after Jinnah’s death in September 1948 and Liaquat’s assassination in October 1951. it had disintegrated. and another League leader. formed their own party. angered League leaders. Jinnah was appointed governor general. 67 HISTORY . and several different political parties had formed in its place. Many Indians hoped that their wartime sacrifice would be rewarded with selfgovernment similar to that enjoyed by the other British dominions such as Canada and Australia. in Dhaka in 1906. so as to ensure adequate representation for their community. By 1953. Over a million Indian soldiers and labourers were involved in the Allied war effort. However. One of the party’s main demands was that Muslims be allowed to vote separately from other Indians and to vote for their own candidates. and as many as 60. the All India Muslim League. However. The League took a moderate stand towards the British and supported their decision to partition Bengal.000 were killed. the British failed to give Indian leaders a greater share in government. The party was modelled on the Congress. and the Aga Khan was elected its first president. The League was based in Lucknow. became the new prime minister. despite opposition from the Indian National Congress. the British move to reunite the Bengali-speaking region in 1911. and its agenda was to safeguard the rights and liberties of Muslims in India. Muhammad Ali Jinnah became president of the League in 1916 and under his leadership.The Muslim League The Muslims. the League began to weaken. They also failed to reward the loyalty and dedication with which Indian soldiers had fought for the Allies in France and the Middle East during World War l. Liaquat Ali Khan. upon pressure from the Congress. it was calling for the establishment of a Muslim state. World War I and Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh Despite their promises. Jinnah got his way when Pakistan was formed in 1947 at the partition of the Indian subcontinent. and the Muslim League became the major political party of the newly formed country.
For 10 to 15 minutes. he was born on 2 October 1869 into a family of merchants in Porbundar. He was also influenced by Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. According to official estimates. On Sunday.200 were wounded. Horrified by the 68 . ordered his soldiers to fire into the crowd. who launched his historic revolutionary satyagraha (devotion to truth) movement against the British a year after the horrific Jallianwala Bagh massacre. They were unwilling to concede to the demands for self-rule. however. to study law where he was inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s book. He has earned the title ‘Father of the Nation’ for the key role he played in India’s freedom struggle. Dyer was relieved of his command.650 rounds of ammunition were fired into the crowd of unarmed men.The war. without giving any warning. Gujarat.000 people gathered at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar Punjab. which sowed in him the seeds of non-violent protest that he used effectively to win freedom for India. 13 April 1919. but they made some concessions as recommended by Viceroy Lord Chelmsford and British Secretary of State Edwin Montagu. as well as to the princes. heightened British insecurity. women and children. 1. South Africa. Gandhi returned to India in 1891 and later left for Durban. 10. where he was the first ‘coloured’ lawyer admitted to the bar. The Acts led to public outrage and protests. and received a jewelled sword inscribed ‘Saviour of the Punjab’ from conservatives. The peaceful protest turned into a massacre when British officer General Dyer. London. nearly 400 people were killed and another 1. Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is one of the most influential figures in modern Indian history. He broke with tradition and went to the University College. The incident gave a fillip to the civil strife. turning millions of moderate Indians into nationalists. to protest against the judicial regulations. which gave the government more power to deal with seditious behaviour. but he returned to Britain a hero. later known as Mahatma (Great Soul) Gandhi. A lawyer by profession. The Montagu-Chelmsford reforms changed the structure of the central and provincial governments by giving greater power and revenues to the provinces. Civil Disobedience. One such Indian was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.The Hindu Baisakhi Spring Festival also fell on that day. But hopes for a better system of governance were dashed by the Rowlatt Acts.
In 1921. During his visits. Gandhi’s leadership galvanised the nationalists and brought an outpouring of suppor t from Indians from all walks of life. when a mob in Uttar Pradesh burned down a police station killing 22 constables inside. he became a champion of Indian rights and founded the Natal Indian Congress. With his shaven head and sparse clothing. However.discrimination against non-whites that he saw there. 69 HISTORY . He was opposed to child marriage. boycotts of foreign goods and refusal to pay taxes as tactics in his civil disobedience movement against the British. preferring to wear the traditional Indian attire of dhoti (a long wrap-around garment worn at the midriff). Gandhi travelled across the country. visiting villages and small towns in every state. Gandhi preached the benefits of non-violence. developing Indian home industries was an important element in Gandhi’s Swaraj (self-rule) movement. Gandhi was also a social reformer who championed the cause of women. Gandhi called off his noncooperation campaign. non-cooperation and social reform. He used hunger strikes. and violence broke out on several occasions. To spread his message of non-violence. he travelled in third class train compartments to identify with the poor. he became president of the Congress Party. He was imprisoned shor tly afterwards and stayed in jail for two years. satyagraha and selfcontrol. the public did not always remain peaceful. he urged the people to boycott the British government and courts. British exploitation of Indian villagers had caused extreme poverty in rural areas and had virtually destroyed the local industries. In 1922. he joined the Indian National Congress and launched a campaign of social reform and non-cooperation with the British at the grassroots level. He received the support of thousands of Indians who went to jail with him. An attack by white South Africans drove him to launch a civil disobedience movement against the authorities. and spin their own cotton instead of using British-made cloth. shawl and sandals. He formally entered Indian politics in April 1920 when he took over leadership of Annie Besant’s Home Rule League. equality of religion and dignity of labour. When Gandhi returned to India in 1914. He himself discarded his European clothes.
the 61-year-old Gandhi led a procession of 78 followers from Ahmedabad. the framework of a new constitution for India had been worked out in London. Salt was a government monopoly and the public had to pay tax for the salt they bought. targetting the salt tax. Hindu-Muslim Differences By 1932. Gandhi picked up a lump of mud and salt and boiled it in seawater to make salt. about 400 km away. The remaining three provinces—Bengal. notably the boycott of British imported goods. Following the Salt March. particularly cloth. In a symbolic gesture. to the town of Dandi on the Arabian Sea. Gujarat. Gandhi was imprisoned for defying the salt law. with a prime minister heading each province. and the Congress ended up winning in eight of the 11 provinces. He was particularly concerned that Hindi was being promoted at the 70 . when they reached Dandi. power was divided between the federal and provincial governments. In sheer defiance of the law. The journey took 23 days on foot. Punjab and Sind—were controlled by regional parties. The poor showing of the Muslim League during the elections caused concern among its leadership. The sale or production of salt by anyone other than the British government was a crime punishable by law. Under the new constitution. Gandhi was released from jail several months later and the British eventually conceded to some of his demands. such as allowing Indians to make untaxed salt for their own use. Gandhi asked people to produce their own salt from sea water in protest against the unfair tax. He urged his followers to make salt and sell it all along the coast. Thousands of people were jailed and hundreds killed or injured by the British because of their involvement in Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement. on 12 March. On 6 April. The first provincial elections under the new constitution were held in 1937. President Jinnah was suspicious of the Congress and feared that Indian Muslims would become a minority in a democratic India.Gandhi’s Salt March Gandhi launched a new campaign of civil disobedience in March 1930.The different religious communities were accorded their own electorates. Gandhi and the Congress launched other campaigns. in protest against the stifling of the Indian textile industry by British policies.
as a single Muslim state—Pakistan. Pakistan. launching the Quit India Movement in August 1942 to press their demands. renamed August Kranti Maidan (August Revolution Ground). the North-west Frontier Province and Punjab. they were not granted by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. including Assam. the campaign touched a raw nerve among the masses. after Jinnah had installed League members as provincial prime ministers in the provinces of Sind and Bengal.expense of Urdu by the new provincial governments. The uprising. Gandhi coined the slogan ‘Quit India’ and also issued a ‘Do or Die’ call at a speech during a rally on 8 August at the Gowalia Tank Maidan grounds in Bombay. was suppressed by mid-1943. ‘A’ for the Afghan areas and ‘K’ for Kashmir. where Muslims resided in large numbers. Jinnah and his followers began to speak of the north-east and north-west. The Congress turned down the offer and demanded immediate independence. Angry peasants across the country showed their ire against the British by attacking police stations. the British promised Congress Party leaders that India would become independent if Indians supported the war. stating that Muslims would have their own states in a free India where they would not be under Hindu rule. meaning ‘pure land’. Quit India Movement During World War II. particularly the rural poor suffering from the effects of the country’s worst famine in 40 years. post offices and other official facilities in the biggest rebellion since the mutiny of 1857. the Muslim League’s concerns were made official when it passed a resolution at a party meeting in Lahore. By 1942 and 1943. However. 71 HISTORY . was a name created from the names of the Muslim states of the north-west: ‘P’ from Punjab. which caused a collapse of government in many areas. the British imprisoned the entire Congress leadership. In March 1940. the League had control of a total of five provinces. and that Hindus were treating their patriotic hymn Vande Mataram as the national anthem. In response to the speech. setting the foundation for the formation of Pakistan. The League saw rapid growth during the World War II years and became a mass party by 1945. Most of the Congress leaders spent the remaining years of World War II in jail.
made up of prisoners of war and civilian residents of South-east Asia. but Viceroy Lord Wavell’s challenge was to achieve a smooth transition to independence that would be acceptable to both the Congress and the Muslim League. Pakistan became an independent nation while India was declared independent from British rule at midnight on 15 August. The British proposed the creation of a self-governing Pakistan within a federal India. launched its ﬁrst attack to liberate India across the India-Burma border. At the end of World War II. Subhas Chandra Bose went overseas during World War II to garner support to oust the British from India. The British. to bring about the expulsion of the British.000 people. except for Hyderabad and Kashmir. in which Hindus and Muslims fought violent street battles resulting in the death of 4. Bose. as well as Jinnah who wanted a completely independent Pakistan. which was rejected by Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru. the British had little interest left in India. 72 . The communal violence spread to Bihar and Punjab. on 18 August 1945. before the British began their counter-offensive and took a large number of INA soldiers prisoner. INA. in the north-east. On 14 August 1947. called Netaji (leader) by his followers. Taiwan. they were busy getting their own house back in order.SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE AND THE INDIAN NATIONAL ARMY A committed nationalist who was president of the Indian National Congress. Of the princely states. including members of the newly formed Indian National Army (INA). Pakistan was formed with part of Bengal and Punjab. The stage was set for granting independence to India. The Congress leaders finally capitulated and in April 1947 informed Mountbatten of their decision to accept an independent Pakistan. the rest acceded to India. replaced Wavell with Lord Mountbatten. The stalemate instigated the Great Calcutta Killing. He formed the Provisional Government of Free India and mobilised overseas Indians. keen to broker a peaceful solution to the communal crisis. was reportedly killed in an air crash over Taipei. INA units succeeded in besieging Imphal. though there is no ‘irrefutable proof’ of his death.
On 30 January 1948. Millions of refugees emerged from the division. bitterness and horrifying bloodbaths as Indians and Pakistanis attacked innocent men. violence. but his drive for Hindu-Muslim unity was looked upon with suspicion by many Hindus who nicknamed him ‘Mohammed Gandhi’ and accused him of supporting Muslims. now set about building their nations. An estimated one million people lost their lives in the communal hate and frenzy on both sides of the border. Hindu Militancy Gandhi’s horrific killing during a prayer meeting brought to the fore the threat posed by Hindu nationalism.The shocked and saddened Father of the Nation went on a fast unto death as a reaction against what he believed was the destruction of the country and the severance of Hindu-Muslim relations. A force to reckon with in Indian politics. was shattered by the human catastrophe induced by the partition. women and children who had become refugees. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first prime minister of India with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as his deputy prime minister. then almost 78 years old. The crossover of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan and Muslims from India was unprecedented in its scale and proportion. The peace-loving Gandhi. The newly independent nations had to pay a huge and bloody price for their partition by the British. long-drawn struggle for freedom. Nathuram Godse. It resulted in hate. less than six months after the partition. His threat calmed the communal fever. who resented his concern for Muslims.Jinnah was the first governor general of the new Republic of Islamic Pakistan. having finally won their arduous. Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic. Hindu nationalism began to take shape in 1915 with the founding of the 73 HISTORY . fear driving them to leave their once secure homes and change countries overnight.The leaders of the two nations. PARTITION AND INDEPENDENCE Communal Catastrophe India and Pakistan gained freedom in August 1947 but not peace.
Hindu Mahasabha. cadre-based party was made up of upper class Maharashtrians. Kashmir. it drew support from people from all walks of life. The RSS had a vision of India as a land of Hindus. turned to India for help. The RSS was outlawed after Gandhi’s assassination. has remained a source of tension for India since those early days. Gandhi’s killer. in 1925. Godse. The disciplined.Ten years later.The five week-long war ended in a United Nations-mandated ceasefire. was an RSS supporter who was strongly influenced by the preaching of V D Savarkar. India and Pakistan went to war for a third time in December 1971—this time over the liberation of East Pakistan. Pakistan’s defeat led to the formation of the independent nation of Bangladesh. a loose alliance of Hindus working for cow protection. the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS emerged and brought with it greater militancy in the drive for Hindu nationalism. which shared a border with both India and Pakistan and had acceded to neither. Thousands of Hindu refugees fled Kashmir for India during the fighting which stopped only after the United Nations negotiated a ceasefire. 74 . but as it grew. a crisis caused by armed tribal infiltrators broke out in Kashmir. the promotion of Hindi and the rights of Hindus. At a peace conference organised by Russian Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin after the war. they went to war again in 1965. the most strident of the Hindu nationalists and a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha. Both Indian and Pakistani leaders tried to reach a diplomatic agreement on the issue in the early years. and India and Pakistan fought their first war over Kashmir. the prince who ruled Kashmir. but they have not been able to agree on how to proceed. but when that failed. Maharaja Hari Singh. It was granted in return for Kashmir’s accession. for Hindus. The two countries agreed to let Kashmiris vote for their future. Even though Kashmir acceded to India. Kashmir Two months after Partition. both sides gave their word that they would use peaceful means to solve their territorial dispute. Pakistan took control of about a third of the territory. which became the state of Jammu and Kashmir when it acceded to India.
Its federal structure allocated greater power to the central government in Delhi than the states. The constitution put in place a British style of government with two houses of parliament and the prime minister as head of government. border skirmishes between Pakistani and Indian troops have continued over the years despite ongoing diplomatic talks. Unlike the turmoil of the post-independence days. Ambedkar and was based on the 1935 Government of India Act.There was widespread debate over whether Hindi or English should be adopted as the official language. ratifying the use of both in parliament and in official dealings. multilingual nation with diverse religions. 75 HISTORY . backward. then took the oath of office as the first president. the 34th and last governor general of India. Kashmir was given a special autonomous status. where the conflict took place. Finally. named after the icy region of Kargil in Kashmir. The problem has been exacerbated by Islamic terrorists seeking to weaken India’s hold on the region. It tried to achieve compromise on most issues. adopted a pragmatic policy of pluralism and secularism regarding language and religion. read out a proclamation announcing the birth of the Republic of India. The skirmishes flared up in May 1999. in 1966. Politics and Policies The Indian government. particularly on the sensitive subject of an official language. who was actively involved in the freedom struggle. holding peaceful celebrations to welcome the bir th of the republic. the crowds were jubilant. At a solemn ceremony held in Delhi.On the Kashmir front. this time.R. resulting in the Kargil War. the day it became an independent republic and its first president replaced the British monarch as head of state. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari. India Becomes A Republic India severed all ties with the British on 26 January 1950. Dr Rajendra Prasad. The constitution was drafted by Jawaharlal Nehru. a new language law was passed. India’s new constitution was ratified on this day. faced with the daunting task of rebuilding a poor.Vallabhbhai Patel and Dr B.
Punjab was also split into Punjab for the Punjabi-speaking and Haryana. and in the Congress Par ty. a wealthy Anglicised lawyer who played a significant role in Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom movement during British rule. English has become an associate official language and the main language of business and the corporate sector. which helped the Congress Party increase its power and influence. Back in 1956. however. Jawaharlal was educated at 76 . Jawaharlal played an active part in India’s freedom struggle and in the Congress Party. particularly Muslims. and was a keen supporter of Mahatma Gandhi. where the people spoke Hindi. the Congress increased its support reaching out to the grassroots level and religious minorities. 1957 and 1962. with discontent among the state governments over linguistic issues. These include Bombay. Like his father. The Congress faced opposition from the Communists. The Nehru family’s leadership of the Congress Par ty since India’s independence has led to accusations of dynastic rule. and Andhra Pradesh for the Telugu-speaking. changed to Mumbai. Calcutta to Kolkata and Madras to Chennai. the Socialists and the right-wing Swatantra Party and the Jan Sangh. the old Madras state was divided into Madras for those speaking Tamil. With these electoral victories. Rajiv Gandhi. Democratic India held parliamentary and state elections in 1952. In the south. Bengal became the state of West Bengal. but these groups were largely fragmented. and the Congress Party won majorities in the Lok Sabha (Lower House) and the state legislatures every time. Jawaharlal was succeeded by his daughter Indira Gandhi as Congress Party leader and prime minister.Since those early days. But it was his son Jawaharlal who took the Nehru name to the pinnacle of Indian politics when he became the first prime minister of free India on 15 August 1947. Hindi remains the official language. and subsequently by his grandson. Many cities have been renamed after India’s independence. and tertiary education in the country. The Nehru Legacy The Nehru family has played an important role in Indian politics from the days of Motilal Nehru. who had nominated him as his political heir. bureaucracy. boundaries for the states were redrawn according to language where necessary.
From a poor. Central planning was the key feature of his economic policy. Jawaharlal was one of the five founders of the movement. exploitation and colonisation at the time of independence in 1947. His role in negotiating independence with the British won him the position of India’s first prime minister. 77 HISTORY . Influenced by the Soviet style of economic planning. He also set India on the path of non-alignment in foreign relations and made it a key member of the NonAligned Movement. backward country. creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of its people. depleted by plundering. India has become a world power today due to its strong democratic foundation and the hard work. India could concentrate on development rather than defence. He believed that by staying neutral. but the Indian people have assiduously kept the country on track. Jawaharlal launched a socialist experiment in democratic India as opposed to the capitalism prevalent in the United States and other Western countries.Harrow and Cambridge in Britain and later followed his father into the law profession. taking it to ever greater heights of growth and progress. intellectual capability. India’s leaders have made mistakes along the way. industry and other areas of the economy. in September 1961. with five-year plans guiding India’s growth in agriculture. which held its first summit in Belgrade. Yugoslavia.
The law of karma states that a person’s deeds. Puranas. particularly between Hindus and Muslims. Hinduism and Buddhism. These two faiths. comprise the main religions of secular India. practised by around 80. Christianity and Zoroastrianism. thus making him entirely responsible for his own life. Hinduism originated 3. Upanishads. a spiritually diverse nation that is the birthplace of two of the great faiths of the world. or almost 828 million of its people (2001 census). It doesn’t have a single founder nor a single holy book but a number of sacred texts. the Bhagavad Gita and the epic poems of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.Religion is an integral part of life in India. The majority of its people remain staunch supporters of communal harmony and peaceful co-existence of all religions. namely the Vedas. India is committed to secularism as laid down in its constitution. HINDUISM Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world by devotees and the predominant religion of India. along with Jainism.000 years ago during India’s ancient Indus Valley Civilisation (2800 BC–1900 BC). determine all his experiences. While religious strife is rampant in the country. both good and bad. It has many different tenets and practices.5 per cent of the country’s population. 79 . Sikhism. Many of these faiths share common concepts such as a belief in karma and reincarnation. Islam. which provide spiritual and practical guidance.
Lakshmi. The city of Varanasi. the consort of Vishnu. they hear priests recite from the holy scriptures. Brahman is an eternal soul who is present in everything. It is contained in the sixth book of the Mahabharata. the Ramayana. which are paths to salvation. besides making offerings to the gods. the supreme cosmic who is worshipped in many forms. Hindus believe in idol worship and many of the devout have a shrine at home with images of their favourite gods to whom they devote daily prayers and offerings of flowers. incense. fruit or even money. knowledge. is also a favourite pilgrimage spot. Pilgrimages are an important part of Hinduism.centred around Brahman. the Hindu epic which has the distinction of being the world’s longest poem. an incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu. Hanuman and Krishna. Devotees visit temples weekly or during special occasions and festivals where. Sacrifice was the most significant rite of the Vedic tradition and was used to invoke the gods. Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer and Re-creator. to seek divine blessings and to see and be seen by the deity. at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.c. notably the warrior gods Varuna and Indra who represented good over the powers of evil. which also includes Rama. The Ganges is revered as holy by Hindus and worshipped as Goddess Ganga. work and devotion. knowledge and purity and a popular deity in the Hindu pantheon. was composed in the same period and tells the story of Prince Rama. situated on the banks of the Ganges River. and is represented by a triumvirate of gods consisting of Brahma the Creator. The Bhagavad Gita or Song of the Lord is another important Hindu text that preaches loyalty to God and extols the benefits of duty. each embodying different attributes of Brahman. is the goddess of wealth. and ritual bathing is performed once in 12 years at the Kumbh Mela Festival in the northern city of Allahabad. It is believed that bathing in the Ganges will cleanse one of one’s sins. The rituals were performed by 80 .The other Hindu epic. The Vedas (Books of Knowledge) are ancient texts introduced to India during the Vedic Civilisation in the middle of the second millennium b. and Hindus travel to sacred Hindu sites such as Vaishno Devi in the north or Tirupati in the south of the country. These ancient texts in Sanskrit define the meaning of Hinduism for Hindus.
but by 500 BC. death and rebirth (samsara) and the concept of karma grew in importance. he helped himself to buttermilk and yoghurt from the kitchen as a young boy when his mother wasn’t looking. As Hinduism evolved. Their growing concern was to achieve release (moksha) from the material world and from the cycle of birth. based on the sacred texts of the Puranas. According to legend. who questioned their monopoly and who turned to teachers such as Siddhartha Gautama who achieved enlightenment to become the Buddha. the old order of Hindu Brahmin priests faced a challenge from their followers.Brahmin priests. They are believed to answer prayers. Both the principles of karma and samsara are contained in the Upanishads. with each region of the country embracing its 81 RELIGION . FOOD FOR THE GODS Special dishes are prepared for the Hindu gods on their celebration days held at temples. meditation and yoga. the Monkey God. The Hindu pantheon exists in its full glory today. has a preference for milk products. also elaborated on sacred rites. Krishna and Hanuman gained in importance and developed a huge following. on the other hand. written in a simple language. the Elephant God. Vishnu and Shiva into Hinduism. The various gods of the Hindu pantheon have different attributes and powers but are all visible representations of Brahman. which introduced the triumvirate of Brahma. Ganesh. with the growth of cities and the emergence of the merchant class. is believed to have a taste for sweet dumplings made of rice ﬂour while the southern savoury vadai is prepared for Hanuman. caste relations and how to portray divine images. The Puranas. fight evil or provide guidance within the real world. The food is prepared in the temple kitchens and then distributed to devotees who come to worship. gods such as Ganesha. pilgrimages. Hindu philosophy evolved from the 4th to the 12th centuries. Krishna. It was at this time that Hindu sages began preaching the search for Brahman in the soul of all humans through ascetism.
a young prince who advocated purity and goodness as a way to escape the cycle of reincarnation. At the age of 35. Here he attained enlightenment 82 . Ayyappan and Murugan are the incarnations of Shiva and are worshipped as protectors of the village.500 years ago. Siddhartha reached Bodh Gaya in the northern Indian state of Bihar. similar to ‘Amen’ in Christianity. Its founder is Siddhartha Gautama. Buddhism focuses on personal spiritual development and strives for an insight into the truths of life. the son of King Shuddhodana and his queen Maya. He developed a desire to release mankind from this suffering and. was born in India at a time when the idea of reincarnation—the constant cycle of birth. death and rebirth—was growing among Hindus. sickness. gurus and other spiritual teachers propagating everything from yoga to meditation. ageing and death. which is a cosmic vibration that holds the heavens together. Because of its sacred nature. which originated 2. for instance. Siddhartha. He realised that all living beings had to experience the sufferings of birth. and that the suffering was repeated in each rebirth. BUDDHISM Buddhism.own particular deities. near Kapilavastu. a region that lies in present-day southern Nepal. According to Hindu mythology. ‘Om’ precedes all Hindu prayer and is also used as the ﬁnal exclamation. capital of the Sakyan republic. OM ‘Om’ is the most sacred of sounds in Hinduism and is said to be the syllable that preceded the universe. In the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. death and suffering among the people. contemplation and detachment as a way to seek the truth and liberate the soul from worldly desire. was born in 563 BC at Lumbini. The young Siddhartha was disenchanted with his life of luxury and was particularly traumatised when he went into the city and saw sickness. left the palace and his family and became an ascetic. self-denial. renouncing all worldly pleasures. Rites and rituals also vary from region to region with a plethora of temples. the gods were made from ‘Om’. priests. at the age of 29.
and is widely practised in countries such as China. a state of blissful peace devoid of all desire. effort. with each sect establishing many different schools. In present-day India. The rise of Hinduism was another reason for the lack of patronage of Buddhism. the Buddha travelled across the country. Ashoka conver ted to Buddhism and tried to bring about a moral and spiritual revival in his kingdom. and stupas and monasteries were destroyed. The Four Noble Truths are: suffering is the condition of all existence. though many more have evolved over the generations. The Theravada sect stresses the importance of monastic life and austerity and believes in Siddhartha Gautama as the only Buddha. He is also credited with helping spread Buddhism beyond India. Mahayana Buddhism came into being at the end of the first millennium BC.9 million people or 0. livelihood. the Mahayana sect emphasises that enlightenment is open to anyone who follows the path of devotion and sees Siddhartha Gautama as one of many Buddhas. Buddhism is practised by about 7. however. the language of Magadha. teaching the Wheels of Dharma which includes the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. speech. which leads to right viewpoint. Theravada and Mahayana. He became Buddha. For the next 45 years until his death. Japan and Korea. mindfulness and meditation. It witnessed a revival under the Guptas (320–550) but declined when royal patronage was withdrawn in subsequent years. During the reign of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (272 BC–231 BC) the Buddha’s philosophy acquired a national status. by the 4th and 5th centuries. Buddhism has two main sects. He also preached the Middle Way or Middle Path. actions.or nirvana. which he believed was the cause of most of human suffering.8 per cent of the population (2001 census). and the way to overcome it is by following the Eightfold Path. values. refuting the existence of a permanent self. His medium of communication was believed to be Magadhi. while meditating beneath a bodhi tree. suffering can be overcome. which is the practice of moderation.The Buddha preached the doctrine of anatta (non-self). suffering is due to desire. craving and selfishness. 83 RELIGION . the Awakened One. as opposed to the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. Tibet. Buddhism was in decline in India while gaining popularity in Central Asia and China.
Jainism is the most ascetically demanding of all Indian religions. It preaches that the way to liberation from the cycle of rebirth is to live a life of renunciation. It also advocates refrain from doing harm to any living thing, a concept known as ahimsa. Jainism does not have one main god but has several lesser deities for different aspects of life. Modern Jainism was founded by Vardhamana, called Mahavira, a contemporary of the Buddha in the 6th century BC. Both Mahavira and the Buddha were of noble birth and renounced all worldly possessions to live the life of ascetics at about the same time. The three guiding principles of Jainism, known as the Three Jewels, are: right belief, right knowledge and right conduct. All devotees must abide by the five mahavratas (five great vows): non-violence, non-attachment to possessions, not lying, not stealing and sexual restraint. Jains are strict vegetarians and are required to carry out some spiritual act every day. They are divided into two major sects: the Digambara (Sky Clad) and the Svetambara (White Clad). The Svetambara Jain sect conducts a ceremony known as the eightfold puja, during which the worshipper makes eight symbolic offerings to the image of a tirthankara (historical teacher). Mahavira had 11 disciples, each entrusted with a band of about 300 to 500 monks to preach the religion. Bhadrabahu, contemporary of the great Mauryan King Chandragupta Maurya (r.321 BC–297 BC), was the greatest propagator of the faith after Mahavira. After Bhadrabahu’s death, serious differences began to arise in the Jain community. The group led by Bhadrabahu migrated towards the west coast and Deccan, while others remained in the north. The texts containing the teachings of Mahavira are called the Agamas and form the canonical literature of Svetambara Jainism. Mahavira’s disciples compiled his words into texts or sutras and memorised them to pass on to future generations. Jain monks and nuns were not allowed to possess religious books as part of their vow of non-acquisition, nor were they allowed to write. As centuries passed, some of the texts were forgotten or distorted. Many Jain monks died during a famine around 350 BC, and with them, the memory of many Jain texts died too.
It was in the Gupta period (320–550) that Gujarat became the most important centre of Jainism in India. The great council of the religion, which saw the holy scriptures finally put into writing, was held at Valabhi in the state of Gujarat around 460. By the Gupta period, Jainism was also well established in other parts of the country, including Rajasthan. In spite of its relatively small size, the Jain community, whose members are mostly from the mercantile class, has had a strong influence on Indian life.There are splendid examples of Jain temples and sculptures of their tirthankaras in different parts of the country. The best of Jain temple architecture, however, is to be found at Ginar, Palitana and Mount Abu in Rajasthan. Jains have also made valuable contributions in literature and painting. During the 20th century, Jainism was carried beyond India with the migration of some of its followers from western India to eastern Africa, particularly Kenya and Uganda. Political unrest in these countries in the1960s forced many Jains to relocate to Britain, where the first Jain temple outside India was consecrated in Leicester. Jains subsequently moved to the United States and Canada, where they successfully assumed their traditional mercantile occupations.
NOT ALLOWED TO HARM INSECTS
The principle of non-violence affects every aspect of the daily life of Jains, from walking barefoot in case a living thing is harmed underfoot, to preparing food in such a way as to ensure that no living form is eaten in the process. They do not eat after dark to avoid accidentally consuming insects, and ascetics are required to wear masks to avoid inhaling living organisms in the air.
Islam, the second largest religion in the world, has as many as 138.2 million followers in India or 13.4 per cent of the population (2001 census). This makes India the country with the second largest Muslim population after Indonesia. Muslims believe in one god, Allah, and base their laws on their holy book, the Qur’an, and the Sunnah, the practical principles of their
religious leader Prophet Muhammad.The most important Muslim practices are the five basic Pillars of Islam: the declaration of faith, praying five times a day, giving money to charity, fasting and a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca. Muslims believe that Islam has always existed, but that the final revelation of their religion was made through Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century in the holy city of Mecca. In subsequent centuries, Islam spread across the Middle East and Asia through Muslim communities, traders or through conquest. According to historical records, it was brought to India in the 7th century by Arab merchants who propagated the religion wherever they went. In subsequent years, the spread of Islam was consolidated through Muslim invaders. Full-scale Muslim conquests of India began in the 10th to 11th centuries headed by Mahmud of Ghazni, which further consolidated the spread of Islam in the country. The Khilji, Tughlaq, Sayyid and Lodhi dynasties of the Delhi Sultanate, as well as the Mughal Empire in the 16th to 18th centuries contributed to the fusion of Hindu and Islamic thought, art and architecture and the development of the Persian and Urdu languages. The centuries of Islamic rulers saw the rapid spread of Islam through India, both through peaceful means and forcible conversions. Islamic mystics known as Sufis played a key role in the spread of Islam in India. They succeeded in propagating the tenets of Islam in an unorthodox way which appealed to Hindus. Moreover, under the Mughals, Hindus were subjected to harsh taxation—the hated Islamic poll tax or jizya and another pilgrimage tax, which forced many Hindus to convert to Islam. Mughal Emperor Akbar, the most benevolent of the Mughal rulers, abolished the pilgrimage tax in 1563 and the jizya poll tax the following year, but the jizya was reinstated by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1679. The Masjid-i-Jahan Numan, better known as the Jama Masjid, is the largest and most prominent mosque in India. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and is located in the old part of Delhi. Today, the Muslims of India, like the rest of the Muslim world, are divided into two main sects, Sunni and Shia. There are also many different sub-sects. In west India are to be found the Bohra and Khoja communities;
leading to the establishment of different Christian communities. Popular Christian pilgrimage sites include: St Thomas Cathedral at Mylapore in Chennai where the grave of Apostle St Thomas is venerated. There are 24 million Christians in India today or 2. churches. The missionaries set up schools. while in the north are the Pathans. in Mumbai. The majority of Christians can be found in Goa as well as Nagaland. and the Shrine of St Theresa of Avila at Mahe. CHRISTIANITY Christianity first came to India in the year 52. Thembavani.3 per cent of the population (2001 census). they are present in smaller numbers across a wide stretch from Kolkata in Bengal. Some of them. even contributed to the great body of Indian literature. Uttar Pradesh. Manipur and Meghalaya in the north-east and the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In the early 18th century. close to Tellicherry in north Kerala. in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Mizoram. the Church of Our Lady of the Mount at Bandra. the Church of Our Lady of Health at Vailankanni in Tamil Nadu. moved westward towards Goa. The Bible was translated into different Indian languages by missionaries. but it was not until the arrival of Portuguese missionaries such as St Francis Xavier and missionaries from Spain. Bihar. Italy and France in the 15th century that Christianity was firmly established in the country. Protestant missionaries became active in the country. Germany. charitable organisations for the poor and destitute and even acquired proficiency in the local languages. During the Goa inquisition under the Portuguese. The Portuguese Roman Catholics. such as Italian Jesuit Constant Joseph Beschi who composed the Tamil epic. where they sought to convert the entire Hindu population.in the state of Kerala in south India exists the Mophilla community. In the rest of India. St Thomas converted the local people to the Christian way of life. Madhya Pradesh to Mumbai-Pune in Maharashtra. St Xavier’s shrine at Bom Jesus Church in old Goa. Hindus were forced to convert and those who refused or were suspected of practising heresy were burnt alive in public. an apostle of Jesus Christ. 87 RELIGION . with the arrival of St Thomas. led by St Francis Xavier.
formless divinity that exists everywhere. Sikhs are recognised by their turbans worn over long hair and their unshaven beards. her calling lay outside the walls of the St Mary’s convent school where she taught. they get rid of their own ego and pride. or free food kitchen. 88 . Sikhism is a monotheistic religion and it stresses carr ying out good deeds. she started an open air school for slum children and later established her own order. both signs of their religious faith. is another community service. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and in October 2003 was beatiﬁed by Pope John Paul II. SIKHISM Sikhism was born in the nor thern Indian state of Punjab in the 16th century. It was founded by Guru Nanak. By devoting their lives to service. and eventually become one with God. Buddhism and Jainism. to care for the discarded of Kolkata society. Every Sikh also considers it an obligation to wear a kara (steel bangle). Sikhism shares the concepts of karma and rebirth with other Indian religious traditions such as Hinduism. Many Sikhs carry out chores in the gurdwara as their service to the community. a concept known as seva. A Sikh serves God by serving other people every day.MOTHER TERESA Mother Teresa came to Kolkata as a missionary in 1931. rather than rituals and rites. Sikh spirituality is centred around the need to understand and experience God. Since then the Missionaries of Charity has spread throughout the world and Mother Teresa has been highly acclaimed for her outstanding work with the poor. She died on 5 September 1997. a social reformer who propagated a transcendent. but for Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (the name she was born with in Albania). living honestly and caring for others. these range from working in the kitchen to cleaning the floor. The langar. The Sikh place of worship is called a gurdwara and the Sikh holy book is the Guru Granth Sahib. the Missionaries of Charity. In 1948.
He refused to accept distinctions between people on the basis of caste or creed and taught everyone how to look beyond these barriers. they called themselves Sikhs. Har Krishan. At the age of 27. a village in present-day Pakistan.Guru Nanak taught unity and reform to his followers in India. GURU NANAK Guru Nanak was born in 1469 to Kalyan Chand and Tripti in ’Nankana Sahib’. which literally means ‘from the mouth of the Guru’. Dismayed that Nanak did not seem inclined towards any useful vocation. Har Rai. his father sent him to Sultanpur where his daughter Nanaki lived with her husband. meaning ‘disciple’. Ram Das. Hargobind. the Golden Temple. the spiritual guide of the Sikhs would be the teachings contained in the Guru Granth Sahib. Nanak left Sultanpur and embarked on his preaching odysseys called udasis. Govind Singh decreed that after his death. he distributed them free to the poor. It was Govind Singh who established the Sikh army known as the Khalsa. 89 RELIGION . Sikhs can be found in different parts of India and abroad. Arjun. Guru Nanak’s attitude towards Hindus and Muslims led some to depict him as a reconciler of the two religions. Guru Angad succeeded Guru Nanak who died in 1539. is built on an island in a huge sacred water tank known as the Amrita Saras (Pool of Nectar) in Amritsar. The spiritual book has the status of a guru and is venerated as the living presence of the gurus. Nanak was put to work in a local store but instead of selling goods. the tenth and last guru who died in 1708. It is a collection of the teachings of Guru Nanak and other Sikh gurus. whose death by torture on the orders of Mughal Emperor Jahangir brought militancy to Sikhism. There. Tegh Bahadur. and is written in Gurmukhi script. and as a mark of their devotion to him. derived from the Sanskrit ‘shishya’.The premier Sikh shrine. and Govind Singh. who laid down his life for his people. Subsequent gurus who continued the teachings of Guru Nanak were Amar Das. but they are concentrated in the state of Punjab where the Sikh holy city of Amritsar is located.
a term derived from Parsa. The religion’s holy texts. light and goodness. His religion was universal and advanced for an age when people were still practising a primitive form of polytheism. rather than a set of superstitious rituals. until he discovered perfect power or energy and perfect wisdom. who founded the last Zoroastrian Empire in Iran called the Sassanian Empire. a tiny island at the tip of Kathiawar. on supreme bliss (ushta). 90 . fruit growers.They settled there to practise their faith and later spread along the west coast of Gujarat where they settled down as farmers. called the law of Asha. on the holy spirit. Gatha Vohu Kshathra. founded in what is now Azarbaijan in the 6th century BC. Zarathushtra is said to have been born around the 6th century BC in Azarbaijan. hence the motto of the religion is ‘Good thoughts. the name of a province in south-western Iran in ancient times. toddy planters. the founder of Zoroastrianism. truth. It was only during the reign of Ardeshir Papakan. are sacred songs written while Zarathushtra meditated on a mountain.ZOROASTRIANISM An old religion. on sovereign desire or fulfillment. Gatha Spenta Mainya. that a concise prayer book called the Khordeh Avesta was composed. He spent several years in meditation. There are five Gathas: Gatha Ahunavaiti. in what is now the western Indian state of Gujarat. He preached that a better life could be achieved with the help of an invisible god of wisdom. The Zoroastrian scriptures were neglected and even lost in a fire at one time in their chequered history.The Parsis were excellent weavers and they have left a legacy of three ancient crafts. good words. Zarathushtra emphasised doing good towards one’s fellow man. carpenters and weavers. the Gathas. This book contains prayers and passages on astronomy and medicine. and Gatha Vahishtoishti. Gatha Ushtavaiti. Around 766. on freedom of choice. a small group of Iranian Parsis set sail in open sailing vessels and landed at Divo Dui. Other scriptures were later written by his disciples in Eastern Iran. good deeds’. reflecting on life and human existence. Zoroastrianism teaches the duties of man according to the law of nature. The followers of Zoroastrianism are called Parsis. which Zarathushtra. on the good kingdom. Fire and the sun are the emblems of Zoroastrianism.
the commercial capital of India. The Surti ghat is a soft silk with a satin finish. near Mumbai. the garo and the tanchoi. where the Sacred Fire brought by Iranian refugees from Iran has been burning continuously since 1741. 91 RELIGION . They pray at fire temples. All three are exquisite silk textiles differing in texture and design. while the garo is fine embroidered silk and the tanchoi is a type of rich floral brocade. The holiest of these temples in India is the Atash Behram at Udvada. In present-day India. the Parsis are mostly found in Mumbai.namely the Surti ghat.
PEOPLE AND LANGUAGES .
Central Asia. India is a sovereign socialist seculardemocratic republic with a parliamentary system of government. The major ethnic groups are Indo-Aryan (72 per cent). developed from its long and chequered history of invasions and migrations from the West. and the Gangetic Plain and the Thar Desert region in between.287. are concentrated in the south. the Middle East. The Mongoloids can also be found in the state of West Bengal and the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. The Indo-Aryans are descendants of the Indic branch of the ancient Indo-Iranians (also known as Aryans) and are mainly found in the northern and central parts of India. six union territories and one national capital territory of Delhi.7 per cent of the world’s population.With 1.028 billion people (2001 census) it is the second most populated country and accounts for 16. and the Mongoloids in the north-east. India has a remarkable multiethnic and multilingual population. Dravidian (25 per cent). who arrived in India before the Aryans.POPULATION India is a country of diversity and contrasts. 93 . About 72 per cent of the people live in the country’s 593. it is a vast land spread across 3. China and Tibet. the rest live in urban centres.263 sq km.643 villages. Its diversity is evident in its physical features. tropical rain forests in the south. Mongoloid and others (3 per cent). It is divided into 28 states.The seventh largest in the world. The Dravidians. with the majestic Himalayan mountain range in the north.
Sindhi. Besides the official languages. Malayalam. Tamil is one of the major Dravidian languages.CASTE AND RESERVATION Caste—a division of people into a hierarchy of communities—is believed to have been started by the Aryans in order to achieve a social order in ancient India. whom the government calls the ‘backward classes’ or ‘scheduled castes’. Bodo. has led to resentment and protests from the rest of Indian society. and the oldest. Santhali. the ones prevalent in the south are Dravidian. Hindi is the official language of the federal government in Delhi and the language spoken by the largest percentage of the people. there are also hundreds of minor languages and dialects spoken in the country. Marathi. Kshatriya. which come from either the Austro-Asiatic or the Tibeto-Burman linguistic families. A reservation policy. and Sini-Mongoloid languages dominate in the east of India. 94 . Manipuri. Kashmiri. It has also adopted a policy of positive discrimination towards these people. Sangam. English is an associate official language. Kannada. spoken on the Andaman Islands. Oriya. Dogri. Maithili. with a long literary tradition dating back to 500 BC when the first Tamil literature. Konkani. Gujarati.This caste system comprised four broad categories—Brahmin. While modern Indian society does not adhere to the caste system.Telugu and Urdu. Then there are the Andamanese languages. Dialects are referred to as mother tongues and may be spoken by millions even though they are not recognised by the government. as well as towards the aboriginal tribals it calls the ‘scheduled tribes’.The other 21 languages are Assamese. which are not linked to any of the other families. whereby a small percentage of seats are reserved for these underprivileged in educational institutions and government jobs. Vaishya. Bengali. OFFICIAL LANGUAGES India has 22 officially recognised languages as laid down by the constitution. was created. Shudra. Of these. Nepali. Punjabi. Most of the languages spoken in the north and centre are of Aryan origin. the Indian government has set up a special division in the Ministry of Welfare to look after their needs.Tamil. To protect the welfare of the underprivileged members of society. discrimination over caste still exists and can sometimes lead to clashes and community tension. Sanskrit.
A prominent feature of the Dravidian languages is the way the sounds are created at the front of the mouth. being the language of the Vedas. Sanskrit was written in the PEOPLE AND LANGUAGES 95 . Tamil. each of which has millions of speakers spread across southern India. In the Dravidian languages. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands. two or even three. Malayalam and Telugu. Bengali. which was essentially a treatise which defined correct Sanskrit—its nouns. Malayalam. Tamil and Telugu. while Lepcha and Bhutia are listed as principal languages. Each state has its own principal language. India was divided into different states with the boundaries created on linguistic and religious lines. Belonging to the Indic group of the Indo-European family of languages. adjectives and three genders. It evolved into classical Sanskrit when it was used as a standard court language in 400 BC. they are not recognised by the government. The languages also make extensive use of sufﬁxes with nouns and verbs. In the case of Sikkim. They have their own script. Nicobarese. pronouns. a union territory in the Bay of Bengal. has as many as six principal languages—Hindi. Sanskrit first surfaced in India during the Vedic period (1700 BC–500 BC) in the Rig Veda. the ancient Indian scriptures that laid the foundation of Hinduism in the country. the oldest Vedic scripture. or in some cases. verbs. DRAVIDIAN LANGUAGES The Dravidian languages are believed to have derived from an ancient language spoken in India before the advent of the Aryans in 1500 BC. SANSKRIT Sanskrit occupies a central place in Indian history. which is related to the Devanagri script used for Hindi. There are four major Dravidian languages: Kannada. that are used by its people. It was the grammarian Panini who in 500 BC wrote about Sanskrit grammar in the Astadhyayi (Eight-Chapter Grammar).After independence in 1947. It was also used for religious and learned discourses by the upper classes and nobles and became the medium of Hindu literature. spoken in Andaman and Nicobar. Bhutia and Nepali as its main languages. Neither is Nicobarese. A good example of this is the north-eastern state of Sikkim which lists Lepcha. verbs have a negative and an afﬁrmative voice.
Brahmi and Kharosthi alphabets. Gujarati. Punjabi and Bengali are believed to have descended from the Prakrits. the language of Hind (the land of the Indus River). though the Devanagri script. the language of the Magadha Kingdom. is a Prakrit. Later Indian languages such as Hindi. Bengali. among others. Its development has also been influenced by non-Indian languages such as Turkish. where Sanskrit was spoken by upper class characters. It 96 . They were grammatically simpler than Sanskrit. The dialects are classiﬁed under Middle Indic languages. Sanskrit is mostly used during religious Hindu rituals. Pali. by the Persian-speaking Turks during the days of the Delhi Sultanate (11th–13th centuries). Persian. among the different dialects in use in the Sultanate. Today. Classical Sanskrit gradually gave way to the vernacular dialects. The government settled on Hindvi. which in turn evolved into the modern languages of Hindi. the language of the Buddhists and their sacred literature. HINDI Hindi is a direct descendant of Sanskrit through Prakrit. descended from Brahmi. So is Magadhi. while Sanskrit is considered Old Indic. Telugu and Kannada. known as Prakrits. while Prakrit was spoken by lower class characters. which came into use by the 6th century BC. a colloquial form of the language which was spoken in north India in the 9th and 10th centuries. The higher status of Sanskrit compared to Prakrit was apparent in Sanskrit dramas. Hindvi was made up of Sanskrit. Arabic and Portuguese. THE PRAKRITS AND PALI The Prakrits (Sanskrit for ‘natural’) are vernacular dialects of classical Sanskrit (meaning ‘perfected’). is also used to write Sanskrit. It was given the name Hindvi. as the language of communication. Hindi’s present form is derived from Hindustani. Arabic and Persian words and developed into a mixed language of communication between the locals and the new arrivals. hence their popularity among the masses. Tamil. The language travelled to other parts as the Sultanate grew and became a literary language in the 18th century.
with Hindi acquiring the status of a national language during British colonial rule. 97 PEOPLE AND LANGUAGES . 273 BC–232 BC). as well as other Indian languages such as Bengali. below. and Pakistan. after or before the consonant. Vowels are combined with consonants and appear in the form of a line or mark known as a matra above. Punjabi and Gujarati. Brahmi is a ‘syllabic alphabet’. including 10 vowels and 40 consonants. Hindi shares common features with Urdu. the same consonant is used with extra strokes in combination with different vowels. Hindi is written in the Devanagri script and has 57 symbols. the official language of Jammu and Kashmir state. The script has no capital letters and is written from left to right horizontally. to inscribe his famous edicts on stones and pillars in the kingdom.finally split into Hindi and Urdu. which means that each character is made up of a consonant as well as a neutral vowel. Devanagri is straightforward and easy to learn with the words written according to the way they are spoken. It includes honorifics which allow adjustments in communication in formal and informal conversations. It originated in the 5th century BC and was used by Maurya Emperor Ashoka (r. In Brahmi. BRAHMI SCRIPT Brahmi is the earliest known script used for writing Sanskrit.
the powers of the gods and the genealogies of kings. fables. By the 16th century. classical Persian poetry took centre stage. folk stories to scientific prose. poetry. the dominant language of intellectual pursuits at that time. an exhaustive written literature in the vernacular languages had appeared. the Bhagavad Gita—and renowned poet Kalidas’ Abhijnana Shakuntala are some of the celebrated works from this genre. The Puranas. Most of early Indian literature was in the Sanskrit language. aphorisms.Traditional literature is dominated by religious themes from Hinduism. however. prose in different Indian languages got an impetus with the setting up of vernacular schools.Indian literary works are as diverse as the languages spoken in the country and include everything from epics. lyrics. literary works were written in the Tamil language. 18 in number. with writers singing praises of the gods and invoking their blessings.The entire corpus of Vedic texts—the Puranas. with Bengali writers taking the lead. giving way to Urdu literature during the Mughal period. are ancient Sanskrit texts that are said to pre-date the epics. drama. in south India during ancient times. The Puranas discuss the creation of the universe. During the period of Muslim rule from the 11th century onwards. the epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. and it had a profound influence on many writers of that period who assimilated some of its elements to Indian themes. The British brought English literature to India. 99 . In the early 19th century.
who won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature. Rohinton Mistry. It was Salman Rushdie’s 1981 novel Midnight’s Children that set the trend of Indian authors writing in English.Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai have been honoured by the international community with the prestigious Booker Prize. penning his last book. Salman Rushdie. Tulsidas. was the greatest Urdu poet of the 19th century.Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai. to spin a fascinating story centred around their unique identity. who lived in the 17th century. an eccentric Anglophile who offended many Indians because of his open admiration for the British Raj. moved to Britain in the 1970s and lived in Oxford until his death in August 1999 at the age of 101.This trend has seen a newfound resurgence in recent years. The number of Indians writing in English has mushroomed in the 21st century with more and more writers. Among the later writers are Nirad C Chaudhuri. particularly those belonging to the diaspora in the United States and Canada. R K Narayan. a controversial book about his experiences as a Bengali under British rule. Salman Rushdie. pro-British collection of essays titled Three Horsemen of the New Apocalypse. or Ghalib. while Jhumpa Lahiri has received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her debut collection of short stories. Vikram Chandra. Anita Desai. as well as an impressive collection of works in English. Chaudhuri. an anti-India. a renowned writer known as the Father of Urdu short stories. while Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan. The book is rated as Chaudhuri’s magnum opus for his vivid articulation of middle class Bengali society in the early 1900s. Muhammad Iqbal was a celebrated Muslim poet of the 20th century. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. Illustrious Indian writers of the 19th and early 20th centuries include Ram Mohun Roy. Vivekananda and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. 100 . Prem Chand.Today there is an extensive body of literature in all the important languages of India. Vikram Seth. drawing on their personal experiences in post-colonial India or their lives overseas. is considered the greatest Hindi poet. AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN UNKNOWN INDIAN Nirad C Chaudhuri is best known for his Autobiography of an Unknown Indian. when he was 99. Jhumpa Lahiri. He continued to write while at Oxford. many of whom represent the new breed of Indians writing in English for a national as well as an international audience.
The lyrical texts were passed on orally from generation to generation through memorisation and recitation until the time when they were written down. The Samhitas are followed by the Brahmanas. Yajur-Veda. and general philosophical teachings. Aranyakas and the Upanishads. spells. which was at the core of Aryan religion. The Brahmanas gave extensive details of prayer and rituals and specified practices to be carried out by the wealthy and the elite members of society. traditional systems of medicine and yoga. ni meaning ‘down’ and shad meaning ‘sit’. science. LITERATURE 101 . charms and magic formulae to guide priests. hence their name. They contain hymns in praise of Aryan gods such as Indra. and magical incantations respectively. while another hymn talks about the process of creation. It is a collection of 1. Agni and Varuna. The main ritual referred to in the texts is sacrifice. and are believed to have been composed by 1200 BC–800 BC. The Aranyakas are forest texts. rituals.They contain 200 works in prose and verse. rituals and sacrifices. philosophy and the creation of the universe. The Sama-Veda. the hymns of the Rig-Veda were delivered by Brahman himself to Aryan priests who then passed it down through the generations. the God of Fire. Sama-Veda and Atharva-Veda. According to legend. Yajur-Veda and the Atharva-Veda came after the RigVeda and dealt with chanting. with knowledge that can only be learned in the secluded environment of forests. the earliest originating in c.028 hymns spread over 10 books. The Vedas also carry information on mathematics. Composed between 800 BC and 200 BC.TRADITIONAL LITERATURE The Vedas The Vedas (the word literally means ‘knowledge’) are the primar y source of information about the ancient Vedic period (1700 BC – 500 BC) in Indian history.1200 BC. The Samhitas are the most ancient of the Vedas and consist of the RigVeda. upa meaning ‘near’. and deal with religion. they are believed to have reshaped Hindu belief by instilling philosophical knowledge into Hinduism. One of the first hymns praises Agni. The oldest and most significant text of the entire body of Vedic literature is the Rig-Veda (Hymns of Praise). Surya. The Upanishads were taught to those who sat down beside their teachers.
The best-known version is the one provided by 16th century poet Tulsidas. She returns to Rama 15 years later. although it was only written down in Sanskrit by the sage Valmiki in 400 BC. devotion. 102 . It is one of the pivotal literary works of ancient India with two important Indian festivals. A DIFFERENT VERSION OF THE RAMAYANA The Ramayana has been translated into different Indian languages and given a variety of interpretations.RAMAYANA Of the two Hindu epics. Rama. she calls on Mother Earth to prove her innocence. with the help of the Monkey God Hanuman. emanating from it. Rama’s subjects raise doubts about Sita’s moral character when they learn that she is pregnant. According to the story. It is believed to have been composed in 1500 BC. turning down the pleas of Bharatha. saves his life after he is injured in battle. Luv and Kush. She is exiled to the forest where she gives birth to twin boys. Tulsidas was unhappy with the Valmiki version of the Hindu epic and concluded his narration with Rama and Sita living happily ever after in Ayodhya. Sita is abducted by the evil demon Ravana. but when doubts about her character persist. During their sojourn in the forest. the Ramayana is older. Rama journeys to Lanka and. He is crowned king on his return to Ayodhya. the seventh incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. who rules the kingdom of Kosala in Ayodhya. However. The Ramayana is divided into seven sections and explores the values of valour. the devious Kaikeyi asks that her son Bharatha be crowned king while the rightful heir. Dussehra and Diwali. Lakshmana. The king has three wives. the Hindu festival of lights. Rama is the eldest son of King Dasaratha. be banished from the kingdom for 14 years. duty and morality through the story of Prince Rama. Kaikeyi. As a reward for her efforts. the earth opens up and swallows her. Rama’s return from exile is celebrated across the country as Diwali. and taken to his kingdom of Lanka. succeeds in killing Ravana and rescues Sita. who is next in line to be king. who wrote Ramcharitmanas in Hindi. one of whom. In response. The principled and uprighteous Rama goes into exile with his wife Sita and brother.
a significant Hindu text that preaches loyalty to God and the benefits of duty. Pandu becomes king because Dhritarashtra is blind. The Bhagavad Gita The sixth book of the Mahabharata contains the Bhagavad Gita or Song of the Lord. but the cousins fight among themselves over succession to the throne. the Mahabharata has a theme of good versus evil and salutes courage and faith. The Pandavas win after an 18-day war and ascend the throne with Draupadi. Arjuna is consumed by self-doubt on the Kurukshetra battlefield and tormented by 103 LITERATURE . The great war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas takes place after their return from the forest. the Mahabharata is a tale of war that took place between two branches of a royal family—the five Pandava brothers and their 100 cousins. The Pandavas are the sons of Dhritarashtra. the Kauravas—at Kurukshetra.MAHABHARATA One of the two Hindu epics. It upholds the honour of women through the example of Draupadi who is saved by the Hindu god Krishna from being publicly disrobed. mythology and philosophical thought from this period of Indian history. The Bhagavad Gita is composed in the form of a dialogue between Prince Arjuna. knowledge. which are paths to salvation. work and devotion. It is an invaluable source of Hindu cultural mores. who then put it to paper. before he joins his brothers in the war with the Kauravas. Written about a century after the Ramayana. gambles her away during a contest with the Kauravas. a sage named Vyasa dictated the Mahabharata to the Elephant God. near Delhi. who is married to all of them. king of the Pandavas. Like the Ramayana. making it the longest poem in the world. it is divided into 18 books and consists of 220. and Hindu God Krishna in the guise of a charioteer. The Pandavas eventually lose the kingdom during a game and are banished to the forest for 13 years. According to legend. one of the Pandavas. Draupadi’s honour is avenged when the Pandavas defeat the Kauravas.000 lines. Ganesha. while their cousins are the offspring of Dhritarashtra’s younger brother Pandu. She finds herself in this ordeal when Yudhisthira.
an all-time classic of world literature. from the Mahabharata but develops it in a completely different way from the epic. without the evidence of the ring. Shakuntala spends the ensuing days pining for the king. Before departing. he presents her his royal ring promising that he will return soon.the bloodshed. Shakuntala Abhijnana Shakuntala (Recognition of Shakuntala). was written by preeminent poet and playwright Kalidasa in the 4th century. The king instantly remembers Shakuntala and returns to the forest where he is reunited with her. anguish. which is illusory. dealing instead with delicacy and romance. who lives in a hermitage and captures the heart of King Dushyanta while he is out hunting in the forest. she offends a visiting sage who curses that the person Shakuntala was thinking about would forget her. Rabindranath Tagore was a poet and writer par excellence and one of the first modernists of his time. The Bhagavad Gita is an invaluable guidebook for followers of Hinduism to cope with life’s travails.They get married. does not remember her. When Shakuntala discovers that she is expecting the king’s child. a forest nymph. culminating in a happy ending. advises detachment from the external world. she sets out for the palace but loses the ring while bathing in a lake. who is a neutral party in the family dispute. pathos and happiness. The philosophy of Hinduism is presented comprehensively in this dialogue that is perceived as a message from God. but the king eventually leaves her to return to his palace. The play relates the story of Shakuntala. Later. A cultural icon of his native Bengal. The king. It borrows the character of Shakuntala. and she returns forlorn to the forest where she delivers a baby boy. In one of her dreamy states. he wrote in a more colloquial form 104 . he softens the curse by pronouncing that the king would remember her if he saw the ring. MODERN LITERATURE Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) The scion of an illustrious and wealthy Bengali family. He pours out his anguish to Krishna and discusses the need for war with him.Years later. Krishna. the king encounters the ring when a fisherman finds it inside a fish and presents it to him.
for Gitanjali (Song Offerings). Tagore wrote in all the literary genres but was best known for his poetry. The Hindi version of the song was adopted by the Constituent Assembly as the national anthem of India on 24 January 1950. Ghare-Baire was made into a film by renowned Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray. Munshi Premchand.of the Bengali language. is a study of the Indian identity and personal freedom in the context of a family relationship and a love triangle. a collection of poems that he had translated into English. corruption and family themes. The gifted Tagore. including the plight of widows. born Dhanpat LITERATURE 105 . Gora. who was also a visual artist. caste and class tensions. In Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World). His writing was meditative and contemplative and explored topical themes such as Indian nationalism and religious zeal. giving its literature a contemporary voice. notably Manasi (The Ideal One). dance dramas. in the early 20th century. two days before India was declared a republic. It was originally written in Bengali and was ﬁrst sung on 27 December 1911 at the Calcutta meeting of the Indian National Congress party. playwright and painter. was one of the many songs composed by Rabindranath Tagore. Premchand (1880–1936) The Indian literary tradition shifted from the subjects of gods and kings in ancient and medieval times to explore real-life issues such as social reform. two autobiographies and songs for which he composed the music himself. essays. conflicts. poverty. Gitimalya (Wreath of Songs) and Balaka (The Flight of Cranes). Sonar Tari (The Golden Boat). for example. INDIAN NATIONAL ANTHEM COMPOSED BY TAGORE India’s national anthem. making a name for himself in this creative field too. Jana Gana Mana. Tagore took up painting and produced some highly acclaimed works. Tagore also wrote musical dramas. At the age of almost 70. composer. became India’s and Asia’s first Nobel Laureate when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. a collection of some of his best poems and social and political satire. Another novel. travel diaries. Besides novels and short stories. the hero Nikhil criticises the excesses committed by nationalists in the early 20th century. He was knighted by the British Crown in 1915 but returned the honour a few years later in protest against British policies in India.
his portrayal of India after it gained independence in 1947. desperately longs for a cow. who was born at midnight on 15 August 1947. Rushdie attempts. The three belong to an elite group of Indian writers who have earned international acclaim for their part-autobiographical. pioneering fiction with a social purpose. was one of the harbingers of this genre. Other 106 . at the exact time when India broke free from British colonial rule. Booker Prize-Winning Novels It was in 1981 that India-born Salman Rushdie won the highly coveted Booker Prize for Midnight’s Children. while Sadgati has been produced for television.Rai Srivastava. which he believes will make him rich in his village. Premchand composed stories from his own experiences. plays and more than a dozen novels. part-fictional novels that present India and Indians through the prism of their unique experiences. (Rushdie himself was born in Mumbai in June 1947. Godaan (The Gift of a Cow). Since then two other Indian writers have claimed the prize. Rushdie’s Booker Prize-winning novel relates the story of Saleem Sinai. to trace the developments in the tumultous Indian subcontinent after its par tition and his own childhood years spent in Mumbai. His last novel.) Written in what has been called magic realism because of the way it merges the supernatural with the realistic. In Godaan. Gaban. is considered the best of his extensive body of writing that includes 250 short stories. and Sadgati (Salvation) and Shatranj ke Khiladi (The Chess Players) among the short stories. Premchand’s other noteworthy works include Gaban (Embezzlement). Sevasadan (House of Service) and Nirmala among the novels. Arundhati Roy in 1997 for The God of Small Things and Kiran Desai for The Inheritance of Loss in 2006. without the frills of popular literature. Writing in simple prose in Hindi and Urdu. Shatranj ke Khiladi and Sevasadan have been made into feature films. The novel was also awarded the Booker of Bookers Prize in 1993 and made it to Time magazine’s prestigious list of the 100 best English-language novels since 1923. through the unfolding of Saleem Sinai’s life. a poor peasant. He departed from the mythical and escapist literature prevalent at the time to write about the realities of the common man in rural India. He does eventually get a cow but pays for it with his life. Hori.
and their family. The story is complicated by the threat of an insurgency in neighbouring Nepal. The God of Small Things relates the story of fraternal twins Rahel and Estha. Since winning the Booker Prize in 1997. who has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times but has never won it. dealing with concerns such as the Narmada Dam project and India’s nuclear weapons. from the perspective of seven-year-old Rahel. was critically acclaimed and received the Betty Trask Award for authors from Commonwealth countries. It delves into the destructive aspects of the caste system as portrayed by Ammu’s affair with a man from a lower caste. Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things was her first book and is the only novel she has written. In subsequent works. But the arrival of his orphaned granddaughter. The Inheritance of Loss. The family owns a pickle factory and comes into conflict with the Communists over it. Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard. Kiran Desai’s Booker Prize-winning The Inheritance of Loss is the writer’s second novel. Ammu. India. Sai.This politically charged novel reveals interesting nuances of life in the Syrian Christian community in Kerala. The two live with their mother. Rushdie has explored Indian. Set in the 1960s in a small town in Kerala. their grandmother. Roy has turned activist and written about political issues close to her heart.The judge is forced to revisit his past. funny and moving family saga’ by the Booker Prize judges. Her subsequent works include The Algebra of Infinite Justice. Her first novel. and The Greater Common Good. Pakistani and Western themes. to try to make some sense of the present. LITERATURE 107 .The twins are separated and Rahel returns to the village at the age of 31 to find a decaying house and a fragmented family. described as ‘a radiant. uncle and grandaunt. the highly controversial The Satanic Verses and The Moor’s Last Sigh.books by Rushdie include Shame. and her budding romance with her tutor shatters this desire. A pivotal event for the children is the tragic drowning of their visiting half-English cousin. is set in the foothills of Mount Kanchenjunga in Kalimpong. written while she was studying creative writing at Columbia University. a collection of essays. It relates the story of a cranky old judge who wants nothing more than to be left alone to live in peace. but Midnight’s Children is considered his best work so far. Kiran Desai is the daughter of Anita Desai. Sophie Mol. a distinguished author herself.
FOLKTALES AND PROVERBS .
The stories of Panchatantra (meaning ‘Five Books’) are among the oldest and the most popular folktales in the country and have even found their way to different corners of the world. The tales of fantasy involving gods. Pandit Vishnu Sharma. psychology. as well as animals who can talk. ruler of a southern state in ancient India. According to legend. Arabia and Greece through traders and travellers in ancient times. their origin may. The Panchatantra Tales have been translated into more than 50 languages. They are believed to have reached Persia. the ignorant princes had become wise and learned in the ways of the world. and each story has an interesting moral. however. Most of the characters in the tales are animals. philosophy. go back to the ancient Vedic period (1700 BC–500 BC).PANCHATANTRA Indian culture is imbued with the colour and richness of folktales and fables. in the Sanskrit language around 200 BC. 109 . The storyteller has set a story within a story. the original tales were written by a learned Brahmin. represent the diversity of ethnic groups and religions in the country. By the end of their training. Pandit Vishnu Sharma wrote the stories to teach statecraft. humans. friendship and the art of relationships to the three foolish sons of King Amarshakti. Many of the tales impart moral values and contain advice that both adults and children can use in their daily lives. weaving an intriguing plot that keeps the reader guessing until the end.
The heron told them that there was a lake nearby that had many lotus flowers and would never dry up.The creatures went to consult the heron about what they could do to escape the drought. He decided to trick the heron into talking while he moved up his back. After flying a short distance.The Panchatantra Tales are divided into five sections: Conflict Amongst Friends. the heron took the crab on his back and carried him to the rock where he had killed and eaten all the fish. There he told all the fish and other creatures how the heron had tricked them all. 110 . he came to the edge of the pond and began to cry. The heron explained that he had heard from an astrologer that there would be no rain in the area for the next 12 years. Because of this. The heron said he was crying because all the creatures would die and nothing would be the same. Crows and Owls. Among the most popular Panchatantra tales are: ‘The Cobra and the Crow’. As usual. ‘The Heron and the Crab’. the heron would land on a rock. The heron had grown old and didn’t have the strength to catch fish.The Forfeit of Profits and Action Without Due Consideration. He offered to transport all the creatures to this lake. ‘The Crafty Jackal’ and ‘The Three Fishes’. A crab came up to him and asked him why he was crying. Before the heron landed on the rock. Soon came the turn of the crab.Winning of Friends. The crab related this news to the other creatures and panic spread in the lake. One day when he was starving. The wily crab saw the bones and realised what the heron had been up to. kill them and eat them up before flying back to get more. the lake would dry up and all the creatures in it would die.Then he cut the heron’s head off and dragged it back to the lake. they clambered onto his back. so one by one. the crab put his claws around the bird’s neck and strangled him to death. ‘The Brahmin’s Dream’. Moral: An enemy can be destroyed by a trick. ‘The Lake of the Moon’. The Heron and the Crab There was a lake in a jungle where lived a heron and many other creatures. ‘The Brahmin and the Goat’.
contains the earliest Buddhist literature. Radha and Potthapada. The Pali Canon. The stories were transmitted orally for centuries until they were finally penned in a combination of prose and verse. The Tale of the Two Parrots There were once two parrots. was upset at being neglected and told his brother that they should leave the palace. In this story. 111 FOLKTALES AND PROVERBS . which is the name given to sacred Buddhist literature. The king was so fascinated by the birds that he ordered that they be kept in a special cage made of gold and fed special food every day.THE JATAKA TALES The Jataka Tales are stories about the life of the Buddha and are part of the Pali Canon. But his brother. The ‘Tale of the Two Parrots’ is one of the popular Jataka Tales. Like the Panchatantra Tales.486 BC at the first Buddhist council. Radha. Life was very comfortable for the two until a huge ape. which represent the Buddha’s former births in various forms. Guests and palace officials transferred their attention from the birds to the ape and he became the centre of attraction. Kalabahu. the wiser of the two. The Buddha is the central character in each story with a moral at the end. Potthapada. For Theravada Buddhists. established in c.The birds were soon back in favour and people started disliking the ape for misbehaving. the Buddha is the wise parrot. they entered the palace garden and were caught in a bird trap. arrived at the palace. One day. And that is exactly what happened. Moral: True worth and ability ultimately get their due. the younger of the two parrots. who loved to travel in search of food and new places to visit. it represents the most authoritative of the sacred texts. predicted that everyone would soon tire of the ape and their life would get back to normal. the Jataka Tales relate stories of animals.
Madanasundari decides to kill herself too. Madanasundari gets the two heads mixed up. Dhavala enters the temple empty-handed and beheads himself with the sacrificial sword as an offering to the goddess. humans and animals was written in Sanskrit in the 11th century by Somadeva. 112 . a writer from the northern state of Kashmir. Dhavala is a washerman who is married to Madanasundari. but the goddess stops her and allows her to reattach the heads of the two men to their bodies and thus bring them back to life. Birbal was one of the nine gems in Akbar’s court. BIRBAL TALES The Birbal Tales is a collection of stories about Birbal and Mughal Emperor Akbar in the 16th century. he beheads himself in anguish with the same sword. affirming the superiority of intellect over all else.The collection of 18 books contains many stories interspersed with riddles that carry a message. a member of his inner council of advisors renowned for his incredible wit. The Heads that Got Switched This is a riddle within the story of ‘King Vikramaditya and the Corpse’. When Madanasundari’s brother discovers Dhavala’s corpse. the daughter of another washerman.KATHASARITSAGARA Another famous Indian collection of stories is grouped under the title Kathasaritsagara (The Ocean of the Streams of Story). One day. Unfortunately. It is said that he wrote the stories to entertain Queen Suryamati. This collection of tales and legends featuring gods.The story ends with a riddle: which one of the two men is now Madanasundari’s husband? The king replies that the man with Dhavala’s head is her husband because the head rules the body. Exchanges between Birbal and Akbar have been recorded and passed down from generation to generation as folktales. kings. the wife of King Ananta of Kashmir. who was despondent at the discontent and political intrigue rampant during that period. Madanasundari’s brother visits them and all three go to the temple of Goddess Parvati.
after listening to an entire discourse. asks a most fundamental question. many of which have their origin in ancient history. India also has an abundance of proverbs. in earlier days. sister or daughter. When Kamal came of age. Sari Ramayana sun-ke puchha Sita kis ki joru thi? Translation: After listening to the whole Ramayana. This saying expresses annoyance with someone who. Kamal responded by asking how he could marry his mother. which is wellknown to every Indian. Kabir asked him to look for a wife.PROVERBS Besides folktales. He refused to get married and thus brought an end to the family lineage. Duba bans Kabir ka jo upja put Kamal. 113 FOLKTALES AND PROVERBS . revealing that he was either distracted or is so stupid that he did not understand the basic facts. were sung by women as they went about their household chores. Translation: The race of Kabir became extinct when his son Kamal was born. sister or daughter. since the world comprised only these categories of women. Native speakers might even use them to emphasise their point of view during a heated discussion. When Kabir’s son Kamal was still an infant. he asks whose wife Sita was. This expression refers to the Indian mystic Kabir. This saying essentially pokes fun at a person for his ignorance. a 15th-century Indian saint. It refers to the Hindu epic the Ramayana. he guided the child according to his policy of universal benevolence and taught him to treat all mankind as one. Proverbs are used regularly in daily conversation and. known for his devotion to God and his poetry and lyrics espousing his universal spiritual teachings. Kabir suggested that Kamal look upon all women as his mother.
the king was struck by lightning and since then. Sufi saint Nizamuddin Aulea began to sink a well in its vicinity. was building his fort at Tughlaqabad. Further incensed. near Delhi. annoyed at this affront. the fort has fallen to ruin.” Soon after. Ghiyas ud-din Tughlaq. when the king observed workers at the fort site sleeping during the day. Fed up with the situation. he ordered all the milkmen to fill a tank with pure milk by pouring a pitcher of milk each into the tank. Ninnanve ghare dudh men ek ghara pani kiya jana jae. Each milkman poured in a pitcher of water instead. to which the saint reacted by pronouncing a curse: “May lightning strike Tughlaq.) According to myth. The king. This saying has its origins in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar. According to legend. may Gujars live in his fort or it remain uninhabited. One day. Birbal replied that milkmen were not to be trusted. To prove his point. This only spurred the workers to split the tasks. Akbar asked his minister Birbal which was the most untrustwor thy class in the kingdom. he questioned them closely and learned the truth. thinking to himself that 114 . immediately ordered all the workers to stop work at the well and to focus their energies on the construction of the fort. But even this move failed to deter the Sufi saint from completing the work on his well. ya rahe ujar. (Gujars are members of the northern Indian Gujar tribe. inhabited partially by Gujars and low caste Muslims. Translation: A pitcher of water cannot be noticed among 99 pitchers of milk. he ordered all the shopkeepers in the area to stop selling oil for the lamps to Nizamuddin. Translation: May Gujars live here or else may it remain uninhabited. when the monarch of Delhi. which disrupted the work at the fort.Ya base Gujar. and they worked at the fort during the day and at the well at night. the king ordered Nizamuddin to be executed.
115 FOLKTALES AND PROVERBS . it was filled with pure water.no one would find out that he had put water in the tank of milk. When Akbar went to see the tank. thus proving Birbal’s surmise.
ARTS AND CRAFTS .
significant because of their clearly defined figures of animals such as the elephant. the cycle of life and death 117 . art has flourished in every region of India. emerged from the Indus Valley Civilisation. indicating a highly developed culture and an awareness of human and animal forms. Figures of human beings and animals made of baked clay and bronze have also been found from this period. It was originally created by women on the freshly plastered mud walls of huts using rice paste and vegetable colours. this style of painting has found expression on handmade paper. with each state possessing its own distinct style and specialty that has evolved from different historical and religious influences. colours and media are used to depict local deities and other religious themes. as well as scenes from daily life. festivals and legends. marriage. MADHUBANI PAINTING From the northern state of Bihar comes Madhubani. festivals.Indian art dates back to the Mesolithic period in prehistoric times in the form of simple rock carvings at Bhimbetka. Different techniques. buffalo and tiger. south of the city of Bhopal. fairs. canvas and even cloth. The works represent major Hindu gods and goddesses. Since those early days. a style of folk art that derives its name from the town of Madhuban. Painted earthenware and seals. The Neolithic peoples of Mehrgarh followed with their seals and ceramic pottery. as well as the skills and raw materials predominant in the area. Over the years.
and encouraged both to flourish. and angular figures such as the image of the Hindu god Vishnu. TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE India’s multitudinous temples are a prominent showcase of the country’s diverse religions. as well as its rich art heritage. Temples built in the Nagara style have a beehive-shaped layered tower. took on softer lines. The pigments for the bright colours used came from local volcanic rocks. a UNESCO World Heritage Site.and figures from nature and mythology in vibrant colours. were built during the Gupta period. the Gupta period is referred to as the Golden Age of Indian art and culture—even the Gupta coins were artistically made. Jain and Hindu styles converged. first built in the 7th century. CAVE ART The Gupta emperors. and the glue came from animal and vegetable sources. The oldest caves date from the 1st and 2nd centuries BC.The 30 caves. Near Ajanta are the Ellora caves. These caves have rock carvings created by Buddhist. Many of the famous Ajanta caves. and some of the best known examples of this are found at the Ajanta caves. a notable example being the Hindu and Jain temple complex at Khajuraho. Nagara architecture prevails in north India. while in the south. are adorned with sculptures and paintings depicting the Buddha’s life and Buddhist legends and are considered masterpieces. Hindu temples are particularly notable for their intricate carving and sculpture and their contrasting architecture. Buddhist. who reigned during the 4th to 6th centuries. the western group has been designated a UNESCO 118 . In fact. which is broadly classified under the predominant Nagara and Dravidian styles. Hindu. in a boar incarnation. Typically. Madhya Pradesh. eastern and southern temples. north-east of Mumbai in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. During this period. temples are built according to the Dravidian style. The art is also symbolic—a fish is depicted to signify good luck and serpents represent the protector. Buddhism had an early influence on Indian art. and Jain sculptors with the application of mud and lime plaster. were major patrons of art and literature. The complex is divided into the western. carved out of rock.
depicted in a variety of poses. animals and religious themes that were inspired by Persian art. A noteworthy example of a Dravidianstyle temple is the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple in Madurai. yet rooted in the local ARTS AND CRAFTS 119 . elaborate structures called gopurams. The temples are famous for their sculptures depicting gods and goddesses. The ancient kingdom of Kalinga. the gateway is usually modest. MINIATURE PAINTINGS Mughal Emperor Akbar (1542–1605) encouraged artists to create miniature paintings portraying scenes from history. only about 20 temples. In the north. remain in the famous Khajuraho complex. is also renowned for its magnificent temples. which sometimes dominate the whole temple site. The Temple of Kandariya particularly abounds with sculptures that have been described as masterpieces of Indian art. gateways are tall. especially the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar. It is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures and has 12 massive gopurams. The stones were stuck on the image with a mixture of sawdust and glue. Some of the sculptures have an erotic theme with their depiction of amorous couples. The skill of the craftsmen lay in the effective balancing of the stones. beaten gold leaf and gilt metal. which is topped by figures representing a lion crushing an elephant. The Dravidian temples have a pyramid-shaped tower topped by a dome. They differ markedly from the northern temples in the style of the gateways. it has been acclaimed as one of the finest Hindu temples in India. built during the 10th and 11th centuries.World Heritage Site. one of the biggest temples in India. These opulent paintings were done on glass and board and were heavily decorated with semi-precious stones. It stands in a cluster of small shrines and is dominated by its tower known as the vimana. GLASS PAINTING Glass painting originated from southern India during the 16th century where it was employed in the courts of the kings of Tanjore in Tamil Nadu. as well as apsaras (nymphs) in different postures. rural and urban life. Today. while in the south. A popular subject was the Hindu god Krishna. Built around 1000. now Orissa.
as well as scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Rajput miniature paintings. Orissa. such as the Akbar Nama and the Razm Nama. is an ancient Indian practice used during festivals. further changed the direction of Indian art. who was also a visual artist. Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan from the 16th to the 19th centuries. and thanka is a style of painting with vivid colours with a Buddhist theme painstakingly created on silk or cotton. Other schools of miniature paintings include the Rajput and the Deccan styles. FOLK ART Other painting styles prevalent in India include kalamkari from southern India. These paintings are dominated by forms of the dragon. pata from Orissa state. were heavily illustrated at his behest. among them Maqbool Fida Husain. Gujarat. It was with the vital contribution made by the PAG that modern Indian art developed a new form and image. Phad from Rajasthan state is characterised by bright colours painted on cloth to depict historic tales of local leaders. Bihar. a period in which Indian artists adapted modern Western techniques to produce works that would appeal to Europeans. practised in the states of Bengal. It depicts religious themes. Kalamkari is an ancient craft that uses hand painting and block printing with vegetable dyes. Vegetable dyes were used to create distinctive paintings dominated by motifs from nature and graceful human figures depicting Buddhist and Jain themes. dance performances and special occasions such as 120 .The Progressive Artists Group (PAG). while pata is a tradition in which either cotton or silk cloth is treated with a combination of gum. Himachal Pradesh. founded in 1947 by a group of six artists. made from the henna plant (botanical name Lawsonia inermis). The rich traditions of Indian art declined during British rule. were related to Mughal painting and other early styles. Even literary works produced during his reign. phad from Rajasthan state and thanka from Ladakh.environment. This art form exists even today and is a popular tourist attraction. chalk and tamarind to give it a leathery appearance. Nobel literature laureate Rabindranath Tagore. PAINTING WITH HENNA Painting with henna paste. introduced Asian and avant-garde Western styles into Indian art.
marriages to decorate the hands and feet. having made his ﬁrst ﬁlm. reinforced with the application of oil. and buyers are increasingly looking upon it as a good investment. Bhupen Khakhar and Vasudeo Gaitonde have a large following in India as well as overseas. DOYEN OF MODERN INDIAN PAINTING Maqbool Fida Husain is India’s most renowned modern artist and one of its most proliﬁc. the trend in art has shifted to the adaptation of traditional imagery and ideas to modern styles such as Impressionism. in 1967. MODERN ART Over the years. as such. With some artists adopting modern techniques. modern artists are not averse to having their art acknowledged and appreciated. usually made of thick paper. then washed or scraped off to leave an orange-red coloured design. In fact. art institutions and art dealers have been showing considerable interest in contemporary Indian art. henna is also used for medicinal purposes and as a nourishing hair colouring. Krishen Khanna. The 91-year-old. The Indian government. and geometric shapes and ﬂoral motifs from Indian art are most commonly used. While Indian artists in bygone years often dedicated their art to the divine and. Cubism and Surrealism. but fades away eventually. Futurism. Museums. ARTS AND CRAFTS 121 . did not feel the need to affix their signatures to their works. modern Indian artists such as Nandalal Bose. is also a ﬁlmmaker. The leaves of the plant are ground into a paste that is applied to the palms. M B Samant. some continuing to create traditional folk and tribal art and others taking inspiration from old traditions. The designs are ﬁne and intricate. The pigmentation stays for several days. contemporary Indian art has become rich and highly diverse and is much sought after the world over. Through the Eyes of a Painter. known for his eccentric ways. has helped popularise Indian art abroad by actively participating in international biennales and other events. back of the hand and the top of the feet through a conical applicator. N S Bendre. Maqbool Fida Husain. through the National Academy of Arts.Tyeb Mehta. Satish Gujral. Jamini Roy. Amrita Sher-Gil. The henna is left to dry. Known to be a coolant.
wood and ivory. he has gone back to ﬁlms. The horse derives its name from the Bankura district of the state and forms an important part of rituals. the young Husain painted cinema hoardings. The four legs of the horse are made first. which dealt with the lives of ordinary people. the different regions and states of India have their unique styles of handicrafts fashioned from a variety of materials and intricate designs handed down from generation to generation. while later works were more mythical. He painted a suite of 88 paintings of different cities to commemorate his 88th birthday. musicians and horses and explored mythical themes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. making Gajagamini and Minaxi—A Tale of Three Cities. In recent years. after which the different parts are glued together. the Sun God who is a rider of horses. neck and head. in objects that are utilitarian. stone. To make ends meet. His early paintings displayed images of mothers with children and toiling peasants in earthy colours. bronze. Terracotta. the Bankura horse is also made in wood. ritualistic or purely decorative. is used to create figurines with a ritualistic symbolism. The 1980s saw a moving series on Mother Teresa and the Portrait of an Umbrella series. In the 1960s–1970s. is coloured and burnt in the kiln. The figure. he painted dancers. and is planning a comedy for his fourth ﬁlm. The size of the horse can vary from 15 cm to 1. STONE AND METALWARE As with paintings. and moved to Mumbai at the age of 20. seen as another form of Surya. where he had his ﬁrst taste of formal training in art at the JJ School of Arts.Husain was born in 1915 in Pandharpur. Dharmaraj.8 m. The rider is the local god. once dry. Besides terracotta. followed by the torso. Maharashtra. brass. as in the case of the famous Bankura horse from the state of West Bengal. CLAY. The painter-turned-ﬁlmmaker remains one of India’s most proliﬁc artists despite his advancing age. 122 . which gave him valuable training in painting on a large canvas. His painting Yatra (1955) shows a rural family driven to pilgrimage by the Hindu Monkey God Hanuman. copper. hard semi-fired ceramic clay. WOOD. The creativity of the local folk finds expression in clay.
wood is combined with other materials like ivory or metal thread to create exquisite designs. In the southern city of Hyderabad. pots and figurines to utility items such as nut crackers and storage boxes. The city of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh is famous for brass. boxes. while in neighbouring Jaipur. is used to decorate ﬂoors during festive occasions such as Diwali. glasses and water jugs for practical and decorative use even in the remote northern region of Ladakh. and is widely used across Indian states for creating figures of deities. Ganesha and Rama. home to the marble edifice the Taj Mahal. ﬁlling it in carefully. silver and brass are fashioned into samovars. among other objects of art and worship. and Tamil Nadu in the south. brass is inlaid in an alloy of silver and copper to create the decorative bidri work. screens. wood is used to create objects as varied as dolls. the Festival of Lights. or to seek blessings from the gods. Copper. In some parts of India such as Karnataka. Kerala. The city of Agra. animal and spiritual motifs. Bronze is another favourite metal. The designs are usually symmetrical in nature. dating back to ancient times. Even windows and door frames are made of carved stones in Agra.Wood is another popular medium for Indian handicrafts with the tradition of woodcarving dating back to ancient times. then powder is taken between the thumb and index ﬁnger and sprinkled on the design. coloured with dye. in India. Powders of different colours are kept separate to create a distinct design. From Punjab and Kashmir in the north. Nagaland in the east. is famous for its marble crafts. Flower petals. to Andhra Pradesh. Stone carving developed after woodcarving in India but is no less popular. either geometrical or based on ﬂoral. ARTS AND CRAFTS 123 . usually Shiva. Brass is created by fusing zinc and copper and is used to make everything from flower vases. are traditionally applied by hand at the entrance of the home to welcome guests. furniture. candles or earthenware lamps are often added to create a more pleasing look. decorative panels and idols of local gods. carvers are known for their stone-and-marble deities. Intricate inlay work is done using black marble and soapstone. The designs. RANGOLI: PAINTING ON FLOORS The powder of rice ﬂour and lime or stone. They are drawn on the ﬂoor with chalk.
PERFORMING ARTS .
The first feature film to be made in India was Raja Harishchandra. however. but it is the Hindi industry.The Indian film industry is a conglomerate of films from different states in the country. laced with numerous songs performed by the actors but sung by playback singers. historical and patriotic to comic. the Mahabharata. are a pot-pourri of family drama.BOLLYWOOD: THE DREAM MACHINE With a total production rate of over 1.000 films a year. Phalke’s film was a success 125 . The bulk. The film. self-censorship imposed by the filmmakers themselves. called Bollywood after Hollywood. that accounts for about 20 per cent of total production and dominates both in terms of nationwide popularity and production. even bigger than the American Hollywood. which makes about 400 movies annually. in some cases. better known as Dadasaheb Phalke. action and horror. romance and action. based on the Hindu epic. The themes of commercial Indian films vary from the mythological to the romantic. the Indian film industry is undoubtedly the largest celluloid dream-spinner in the world. tells the story of an honest king who loses his kingdom. Unlike Hollywood productions. made by Dhundiraj Govind Phalke. It was screened in 1913. Indian films avoid nudity and overt sex scenes—until a few years ago even passionate kissing on screen was taboo—because of state censorship and.
Filmmaking in those early years included rural dramas with social and political themes. was introduced in 1935. starring Amitabh Bachchan as a police officer who takes the law into his own hands. It was the huge success of the 1973 film Zanjeer (Chain). a technique in which a song is recorded in advance and the actor lip-syncs the lyrics on screen.and it ran for a month in Mumbai. became celebrities in their own right. had seven songs and introduced the song-and-dance routine. which has become a key part of Indian cinema. transforming the fledgling Hindi film industry. For his contribution to Indian cinema. Playback singing.The film. Kishore Kumar among the male vocalists. Playback singing soon became the norm and gave rise to playback singers who. Sound came to Indian cinema in 1931 with Alam Ara (Beauty of the World). 126 . Actors such as Bachchan. along with the actors and actresses. and given the vast number of languages spoken in multilingual India. another consideration for Mumbai filmmakers was which language to produce their films in. Hindi. and Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle among the female vocalists. Independence from British rule in 1947 brought in its wake a desire for nation-building. in the early 1970s. this period saw a proliferation of films with patriotic themes. Singers who made their mark at that time and continued to dominate playback singing in Mumbai for years to come include Mukesh. or a type of spoken Hindi called Hindustani. produced by Ardeshir Irani. biographical films about popular historical figures and films adapted from literature. that shifted the focus from middle class. Mohammad Rafi. viewing the industry as a key source of revenue. It was some decades later. romantic hero popular at the time. that the ‘angry young man’ entered Hindi cinema and transformed the image of the soft. but the euphoria was shortlived when filmmakers found the new government giving the film industry a back seat in its push for industrialisation and economic development. Sound brought with it complications related to language.The government also tightened censorship and imposed heavy taxes. Nevertheless. Phalke is referred to as the ‘Father of Indian Cinema’. emerged as the language that offered the biggest market. family-oriented themes to the larger arena of the society and state.
in recent years. black marketeers and corrupt politicians. were launched. P. family-oriented cinema. where siblings are separated in their childhood and are reunited as adults for a happy ending. the Indian entertainment landscape had changed drastically and Indian filmmakers were faced with real competition from the ‘idiot box’. when Star TV and Zee TV. Shah Rukh Khan. Another family-oriented 127 PERFORMING ARTS . Hema Malini.Rajesh Khanna and Vinod Khanna were supported by heroines such as Rekha. playing smugglers. with an overlay of romance. and digital sound. originally a television actor. Bollywood in Transition The 1990s brought with it economic liberalisation and the entry of satellite television into India. Dutta’s 1997 Border. Rakhee and Bollywood’s quintessential ‘Dream Girl’. do-good hero. than back home in India. the heroine was a mere wallflower. However. filmmakers began improving production values. brought to justice by the zealous. In fact. By 1992. Another popular theme at that time was the ‘lost and found’ family plot. with films like J.The mid1990s saw an upsurge of big-budget flicks that combined love stories within family spectacles such as weddings. and Hindi filmmakers made a concerted effort to seek overseas audiences. Most notable of these were Hum Aapke Hain Koun (Who Am I to You) and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (The One with a Pure Heart will Get the Bride). family values and nationalism. Globalisation and liberalisation brought about the internationalisation of the production and distribution of Indian films. This period also saw a shift away from the angry young man and villain films to entertaining. some Hindi films have enjoyed greater commercial success among members of the Indian diaspora in countries such as Britain and the United States. came into the spotlight during this period. who always ‘gets his man’. foreign locations and elaborate sets became the order of the day. India’s first private Hindi language satellite channels. Villains came to the fore in the formulaic goodversus-bad plots. effectively tackling this issue. whose primary task was to stand by the hero’s side till the end. two factors which had a huge impact on Bombay’s film industry.To entice audiences to leave their living rooms and watch movies in theatres. There has also been a depiction of terrorism.
his position unshaken even when he appears in a negative role. 128 . Rani Mukherji and Aishwarya Rai. who has dominated Mumbai filmdom since the 1990s. Amitabh Bachchan still towers above Bollywood. The two have starred together in big budget extravaganzas such as Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (Sometimes Happiness. and Shah Rukh Khan or King Khan. Sometimes Sadness) and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (Don’t Ever Say Goodbye). despite his grey hair and advancing years.blockbuster of this decade was Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (Something is Happening to Me). Madhuri Dixit held sway for a long while.This paved the way for producers to get legitimate insurance and bank loans for their films. India’s corporations have also ventured into the media business. Between the two of them. who then passed the baton on to Preity Zinta. As far as Bollywood is concerned. a pot-pourri of romance. This movie further consolidated the star status enjoyed by Shah Rukh Khan. reducing the age-old reliance on illegitimate sources. continues to draw the crowds. while Shah Rukh Khan remains the national heartthrob. The 21st century has seen the advent of professionalism in Bollywood. comedy. its winning escapist formula combined with lavish sets. BIG B AND KING KHAN Countless heroes have come and gone since the birth of Bollywood but there has never been anyone quite like Amitabh Bachchan. they have dominated Hindi ﬁlmdom for over three decades. giving way to Kajol and Juhi Chawla. or Big B. some things are unlikely to change. It was in the year 2000 that the Indian government finally gave filmmaking the status of an industry. and entertainment revolving around a love triangle with a tragic twist. both box ofﬁce hits. including the notorious financiers of the underworld. Even as winds of change blow through Bollywood. sponsoring television shows and looking to make a foray into films too. leading ladies have not been able to sustain their hold over the box office. and a glamorous cast. Unlike the all-important hero in male-dominated Hindi films. a generous dose of songs and dances.
Dhamar. Khayal is the dominant form of contemporary art music and allows the singer greater flexibility and opportunities for creative improvisation. susir (wind). with distinct nomenclature.MUSIC Like ar t. music in diverse India is an eclectic mix of the classical and contemporary. Among the numerous Indian instruments in the strings category are the sarangi. are made up of combinations of the seven notes of Indian music: Sa Sadjam. avanada (percussion) and Ghana (gongs. Dha Dhaivad. Carnatic music is devotional in nature with its lyrics addressed to any one of the many deities in the pantheon of Hindu deities. share the fundamental forms of Indian classical music—the raga (melody) and tal (rhythm). invented in the 13th century by Amir Khusro. Ni Nishad. Pa Pancham. which has its origins in the sacred Hindu text Sama Veda. bell and cymbal). Four types of instruments are used in Indian classical music—the tantrum (strings). Hindustani music has five different forms: Dhrupad. This system. Ri Rishab. which are meant to evoke the different human emotions.The two. however. The sitar has been popularised around the world by its greatest exponent. It has 62 basic roots known as the Melakarta Ragams. sarod. Re. Ragas. while the shehnai represents the wind category. SITAR AND RAVI SHANKAR The sitar. Khayal. Qawwali and folk music. 129 PERFORMING ARTS . folk and devotional. Ma Madhyam. is one of the most famous of Indian stringed instruments. is similar to the Western system of scales and flats. can be broadly classified into the north Indian and south Indian traditions. Ma. divided into two sets of 31 ragas. Ga. It is made from seasoned gourd and teak wood and has about seven main strings and 13 others designed for sympathetic resonance. Dhrupad is the oldest with traditional compositions praising the gods and monarchs. instruments and styles of performance. santoor and sitar. Classical music. Ga Gaandhaar. Other forms of Indian music include Ghazal. and also includes lyrics about nature. Pa. which in turn have seven notes—Sa. Da and Ne. The tabla is a percussion instrument. Tappa and Thumri.
DANCE Like music. women were dedicated to temples and danced for the deities. Bhangra is a vigorous dance performed during the harvest festival of Baisakhi in Punjab state. It traces its origins to the Devadasi tradition prevalent in southern India in medieval times. fear. Folk Dances Each region and village has its own folk dances performed during festivals and on special occasions such as weddings and the birth of a child. Manipuri and Kathakali. a combination of the two. mime using facial gestures. disgust. It is believed that Indian classical dance was defined by sage Bharata Muni in the Natya Shastra (Treatise of Dance). Bharatanatyam is primarily a solo dance and involves elaborate gestures and postures performed to Carnatic music. written in Sanskrit sometime between 200 BC and 200 AD. Kathak. the rhythmic movements of the body. courage and serenity. anger. The dances are performed to seek blessings from gods. wonder. dance in India has traditionally been a form of worship of the gods.maestro Ravi Shankar. It has three main elements: nritta. Dandiya Raas. natya. 130 . Indian folk dances include Chhau. feet and hands. for his pioneering work in synthesising the music of the East and West. Kuchipudi. Both men and women usually take part in folk dances. sorrow. Garba and Bhangra. unlike the classical dances.The dancers are accompanied by a drummer who usually stands at the centre of the group. Most of the dances are easy to perform and do not require extensive training. including two Grammys from the American Recording Academy. The main classical dance forms are Bharatanatyam. though the traditional form of Bhangra is performed primarily by men. compassion. namely. and all dance forms were structured around the nine emotions or rasa. Shankar is a musician and composer of great eminence who has won countless international awards. and nritya. which is often worn with elaborate jewellery. Mohiniattam. Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest and most popular of the classical dances. Under the Devadasi tradition. happiness. Each dance has a distinct colourful costume. or to express joy and the spirit of celebration. Odissi.
it is performed at any time. The Garba is a fertility dance in which women carry oil lamps in pots on their heads and move around in a circle. the tiny bells on the sticks make a tinkling sound which adds to the pleasure of the dance. 131 PERFORMING ARTS . but in its modern version. both Dandiya and Garba are performed in honour of the goddess Amba. In the Dandiya. Here too. balancing the pots.DANDIYA AND GARBA Energetic dances that originated in the western state of Gujarat. They snap their ﬁngers and clap their hands to produce a fast beat. The dance was traditionally performed at night. the dancers move in a circle and every time they move their sticks. the dancers carry colourful sticks which they use either solo or in partnership with other dancers.
INVENTIONS AND MEDICINE .
unearthed in present-day Pakistan. 0.05. 20. 100. in c.000. 0. The units 10.100 BC. In fact. Later. 5. 2. 1.367 inches. Historical records reveal that a basic version of the decimal system was in use during the Indus Valley Civilisation. as have scales with decimal divisions. Weights corresponding to ratios of 0. the Vedic system gave no special importance to any number. The place value system was uncovered in the Vedic period of Indian history and is explained in detail in the ancient scriptures the Vedas. 50. 100.000 are named daza. modern mathematics can trace its origins to India where the decimal system and the base-10 system with a symbol and a position for zero were discovered.1. 200 and 500 have been identified from archaeological finds. up to the fifty-third power. laksa.000. also suggests the advanced knowledge employed in town planning in that period. in the 17th century. koti.2. 100 and 1. 10. 133 . Indian author Pingala described for the first time a system of binary enumeration convertible to decimal numerals in his Chandas Shastra treatise. zata and sahasra respectively in the Sanskrit language along with 10. 10 million and 100 million (ayuta.5. His discovery bears similarities to the binary system developed much later by German polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. By giving each power of ten an individual name.MATHEMATICS India has an impressive track record in mathematics and science dating back to the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation (2800 BC–1900 BC). A bronze rod marked in units of 0. vyarbuda). 0.
and calculated pi to four decimal places. 134 . It was 499 and Aryabhata was only 23 years old. i. 3. In his famous text on astronomy and mathematics. which was only 0.902 miles).358 days—only 3 minutes and 20 seconds longer than the true value. is believed to have appeared earlier. but adopted it eventually.736 km (24. He calculated the length of the day as 23 hours.2 per cent smaller than the actual value of 39. Aryabhata’s text was translated into Arabic and influenced the development of Arabic and European mathematics. he argued that the positions and periods of the planets were relative to a stationary Sun. and that the orbits of the planets were ellipses around the Sun. OTHER BRILLIANT MATHEMATICIANS Other brilliant mathematicians of the classical age of Indian mathematics were Brahmagupta. Bhaaskara and Maadhava. The Europeans. He also developed methods of solving quadratic and indeterminate equations using fractions. the modern value is 23:56:4. a text of the Jain religion which dates back to 458. Aaryabhatiiya. In mathematics.The concept of zero. The workings of the Indian numeral system reached the Arabs in the 7th or 8th century and travelled to Europe in the 12th century. Similarly. 56 minutes and 4. one of Aryabhata’s greatest contributions was the calculation of sine tables which went into the realm of trigonometry. in the Babylonian number system. however. proposed that the Earth was a sphere that spun on its axis.e. Brahmagupta’s best known work is the Brahmasphuta Siddhanta. Aryabhata computed the Earth’s circumference as 39.India is also credited with the discovery of the numeral zero. He ascribed the motion of the moon to the Earth’s rotation.843 km (24. disclosed in Lokavibhaaga. who were using the Roman numeral system at the time.835 miles). Aryabhata..1416. He posited that the Moon and planets reflected sunlight.091. Aryabhata At about the same time as the numeral zero was discovered in India. he estimated the length of a year at 365.1 seconds. an astronomer. were initially resistant to the Indian method.
which shows that the energy of a photon can undergo partial transformation within matter. a physicist renowned for his contributions to the fields of positron theory and cosmic rays at the University of Cambridge in Britain. He calculated the sine. Bhaaskara was an outstanding mathematician from south India. Bhabha established the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai. Another leading scientist of the 1900s was Homi Jehangir Bhabha. Nobel Laureate C V Raman One of the most famous scientists of modern India is Chandrasekhara Venkata (C V) Raman. as well as zero and irrational numbers. along with his colleague Nagendra Nath. who wrote scientific treatises on quantum mechanics. Maadhava made history with his writings on trigonometry. propounded the Raman-Nath Theory on the diffraction of light by ultrasonic waves. He was a director of the Indian Institute of Science and founded the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1934 and the Raman Research Institute in 1948. particularly the molecular scattering of light. Other eminent Indian scientists include Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose. Meghnad Saha. who collaborated with Albert Einstein in the 1920s to produce the Bose-Einstein Condensation Theory. cosine and arctangent of the circle. in which he developed a solution for a certain type of second order indeterminate equation. It contains descriptions of advanced mathematical techniques involving both positive and negative integers. A few years later. a nuclear physicist who gave new insight into the functions of stellar spectra. Born in 1114 in Karnataka. developing the world’s ﬁrst consistent system of trigonometry. 135 INVENTIONS AND MEDICINE . which includes a signiﬁcant section on algebra. Raman. he composed a four-part text entitled Siddhanta Ziromani. a Cambridge-educated Bengali physicist who discovered the application of electromagnetic waves to wireless telegraphy in 1895. Satyendranath Bose. Raman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930 for his discovery of the Raman Effect.written in 628. In 1945.
According to Ayurvedic principles. Ayurveda Ayurveda. pitta and kapha. animal and mineral origin. lack of exercise or unhealthy habits can cause illness. human beings—and all objects in the universe—consist of five elements: space. It is said to have divine origins.The Vedic scripture Charka Samhita is the most significant text on ancient medicine and contains several chapters dealing with therapeutic or internal medicine using 600 drugs of plant. space and air combine to form vata dosha. respiration and elimination. air. and to establish the safety of its drugs through enhanced research and scientific testing. Ayurveda is the more popular. is a holistic system of medicine that first came to light in the Vedas. and treatment seeks to restore the balance. However. although it has been in use in India for more than 3. its methods have not yet found universal acceptance. geriatrics and aphrodisiacs. each individual is made up of unique proportions of vata. Of the two homegrown systems of medicine in use in India. Ayurveda offers principles of healthy living. Fire and water combine to form pitta dosha. the water and earth elements combine to form the kapha dosha which controls growth. Ayurveda has eight disciplines: internal medicine. surgery. psychiatry.The Indian government is spearheading a drive to promote the healing powers of Ayurveda and other systems of traditional medicine around the world. A change in the natural equilibrium due to poor diet. ophthalmology. It remains a complementary and alternative system of medicine in Western countries such as the United States.Two or more of these elements combine to produce specific reactions in us.TRADITIONAL MEDICINE India has a long tradition of natural cures and herbal medicines dating back to the Vedic period. which directs nerve impulses. toxicology. circulation. the supreme creator. fire. extraction and bandaging. the process of metabolism. excision. as well 136 . Ayurveda and Siddha.000 years. The Sushruta Samhita is another vital medical source and pertains to surgery. water and earth. For instance. Finally. delivered to humanity by the Hindu god Brahma. paediatrics. providing detailed descriptions of incisions. In the Ayurveda system of medicine. mostly to support modern allopathic medicine. where it is used largely for its dietary and lifestyle related guidelines. which is the Sanskrit word for ‘meaning of life’.
which is beneficial in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. used in curries and most vegetable and meat preparations. more and more institutions sprang up across the country. activity and psychotherapy. Finally in 1964–1965. A combination of sulphur. Besides its usefulness as a preservative and colouring in Indian cooking. has been used for several illnesses and seems to be effective in lowering cholesterol. such as bronchial asthma. Curcumin. Today.as treatments for a variety of diseases ranging from common colds and influenza to the more severe illnesses. INVENTIONS AND MEDICINE 137 . As Ayurveda received wider acceptance and official recognition. its medicinal properties. the government set up the Central Board of Siddha and Ayurvedic Medicine to regulate this sector of medicine. The first tertiary institution to teach Ayurveda—the Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbia College—was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1921. An extract from the tropical shrub commiphora mukul. iron. Recent studies conducted in the West have reported the extensive beneﬁts of turmeric in the ﬁght against cancer. or guggul. Ayurveda saw a revival in the early 20th century when Indian nationalists demanded government patronage for its development in accordance with modern scientific parameters. powdered dried fruits and tree root is also used to treat liver problems. diet. One of the more commonly used ingredients of Ayurvedic medicine is turmeric.The different Ayurvedic treatments include: purification. most major Indian cities have an Ayurvedic college and hospital. have long been acknowledged. and aids in wound healing. Institutions teaching Ayurveda can also be found in Europe and the United States. has been found to inhibit melanoma cell growth and stimulate tumour cell death.The botanical plants used in Ayurvedic treatment are sometimes mixed with metals. a compound in turmeric with antioxidant properties. particularly as an internal and external antiseptic. Massage. The movement gathered momentum after India’s independence in 1947. also plays a key role in this system of treatment. Ayurvedic methods and practices were widely employed to cure all kinds of ailments but suffered a long period of neglect during the period of Muslim invasions from the 11th to the 19th centuries. using special herbal oils. THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF TURMERIC Turmeric is an essential spice in India. ischaemic heart disease. rheumatoid arthritis and acute viral hepatitis. palliative treatment.
Siddha is practised largely in southern India by Tamil-speaking people and is therapeutic in nature. Siddha also obtains drugs from animal sources. though more research and testing is required before this can be accepted as a scientific fact. called the ‘Father of Yoga’. Siddha believes that the human body is composed of the five basic elements of earth. are used in making traditional medicines. The Siddha system is capable of treating all types of disease and is known to be particularly effective in treating urinary tract infections and diseases of the liver and the gastrointestinal tract. the knowledge of Siddha originated with the Hindu god Shiva who passed it on to his consort. it is nevertheless a holistic system that promotes healthy living. Siddha is a holistic system that uses a combination of metals and minerals in its drugs.Siddha System of Medicine The Siddha system of traditional Indian medicine shares principles and practices with Ayurveda. 200 BC. Yoga originated in the ancient Vedic period but was given a formal structure by the sage Patanjali. Parvati. a book of 195 aphorisms. fire. Besides plant sources. and items such as gold. Like Ayurveda. lead and iron. water. in the Yoga Sutra. It eventually found its way to the Siddhars. and 64 varieties of minerals that do not dissolve in water but emit vapours when placed in a fire. which can unite the individual with the divine. which are also found in food. incinerated by a special process. Sulphur and mercury occupy a crucial place in Siddha medicine. breathing exercises and meditation. which are essentially different types of alkalis and salts. Yoga Unlike Ayurveda and Siddha. silver. in c. medicines and everything else in the universe. Textbooks written in the Tamil language provide a detailed classification of the different minerals and metals used in drug formulation. copper. Siddha practitioners claim their medicines can reduce the debilitating illnesses associated with HIV/AIDS. yoga does not offer any drugs. It employs 25 varieties of water-soluble inorganic compounds. who were distinguished scientists in ancient times. air and sky. it attempts to achieve a perfect balance between the body and the mind. At the heart of his philosophy was the 138 . According to legend. Through a combination of bodily postures.
Breathing itself has four stages: inhalation. austerity. whether they are mental. According to the philosophy of yoga. yoga is synonymous with Hatha Yoga. It is seen as an effective means to physical health. IMPORTANCE OF BREATHING RIGHT According to yogic principles. a system introduced by Yogi Swatmarama. most diseases. pause.) Hatha Yoga offers a variety of postures for meditation and to cure health problems. originate in the mind through faulty thinking. abstention from possessions. particularly the excretory and urinary systems through which all the harmful toxins are eliminated. living and eating. it advocates cleansing the body as the first step in curing any ailment. pranayama is essential for general health and to control the vital life energy.The aim of yoga. dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absolute bliss). It differs from Patanjali’s yoga in that it focuses on the purification of the physical being leading to the purification of the mind. niyama (observances)—purity. exhalation and pause again.The eight work together to increase concentration and mental purity and rejuvenate the different organs in the body to promote vitality. Today. psychosomatic or physical. which requires it more than any other organ. pratyahara (sense control). asana (postures). is to correct these negative habits. Like Ayurveda. abstention from theft. particularly in the Western countries where it is widely popular. INVENTIONS AND MEDICINE 139 . the pauses are prolonged to beneﬁt the body and state of mind. truth. self-study and living with an awareness of the divine. dharana (concentration). in yoga. are: yama (abstentions)— non-violence. Oxygen is believed to be the most vital nutrient for the body. known as the eight limbs of Patanjali.The eightfold path. Yoga does not use any drugs but helps to develop full efficiency of the various organs of the body. vigour and longevity. strengthen the back and improve digestion.eightfold yogic path (ashtanga yoga) for all-round development leading to the ultimate goal of the union of the individual soul with the Universal Spirit. depression and mental sluggishness can occur when the brain does not get enough oxygen. vitality and spiritual mastery. contentment. a 15th-century sage. therefore. pranayama (breath control). (Patanjali’s yoga begins with the purity of the mind and spirit before going on to the body. particularly the brain. continence. Negative thoughts.
THE INDIAN CALENDAR .
141 . similar to zodiac constellations. the ecliptic or path of the sun through the sky is divided into 27 nakshatra or lunar mansions. the section of the Vedas that deals with astronomy and astrology. It has five properties: tithi. the Indian government has officially adopted the Indian National Calendar for civilian use in the country and the Gregorian calendar for administrative purposes. vaasara. and karana is half of the tithi. However. an astronomical treatise written between the 3rd and 4th centuries. It was standardised in the Surya Siddhanta. According to the ancient calendar system. Tithi is the lunar day. vaasara or vaara refers to the seven days of the week. calculated from the angular difference between the sun and the moon.INDIAN NATIONAL CALENDAR There are several calendars in use in India. nakshatra. and subsequently reformed by astronomers such as Aryabhata in the 5th century and Bhaskara in the 12th century.The Indian National Calendar is a modified version of the traditional calendars used by Hindus. The Hindu calendar system was introduced in the Jyotish Vedanga. yoga and karana. the calendrical day starts with local sunrise. yoga is calculated from adding the longitude of the sun and the moon and dividing the sum by 27. the earliest dating back to the Hindu calendar used in ancient Vedic times.
compared with the modern length of 365. All India Radio. with a normal year of 365 days. and different assumptions about the length of months and years brought about variations among them. either 30 or 31. The Indian National Calendar takes off from the Saka Era.The first year is counted from the first year of the Saka Era in 78. the old values are still in use in many traditional Indian calendars. This calendar.258681 days to 365.25636 days. The remaining months have 30 days. To bring about uniformity in the use of calendars in India. a reform exercise was undertaken in the 1950s. The months have a fixed number of days. It is referred to constantly by priests and religious leaders to calculate the dates of festivals as well as auspicious days and times for important events such as marriages.In ancient India. The first day of the Indian National Calendar coincides with 22 March in the Gregorian calendar. Therefore. Many different calendars based on the movements of the sun and moon were in use then. the length of the year ranged from 365. The five months from the second to the sixth have mean lengths over 30. The Gregorian calendar is used for official purposes such as news broadcasts by the state-owned radio network. except in a leap year when it starts on 21 March.258756 days.5 days and their lengths are rounded up to 31 days. launching a new business venture and performing religious rituals. calendars issued by the Indian government and government communications meant for the public. 2006 in the Gregorian calendar translates to 1927–1928 in the Saka Era.The traditional calendar plays a key role in the lives of Hindus. Both solar and lunar movements are used in the calculation of dates. was adopted by the Indian government on 22 March 1957 along with the Gregorian calendar. 142 .
a state or a certain tribe. Some festivals such as Diwali. Chatt Puja. 143 THE INDIAN CALENDAR . is celebrated twice a year. a popular festival devoted to the Sun God. others are particular to a region. Id-ul-Zuha. Holi. There are also festivities to mark the start of the harvest season and the new year. Raksha Bandhan. for instance. marriages and even their victory over an evil demon.INDIAN NATIONAL CALENDAR Month Chaitra Vaisakha Jyaistha Asadha Sravana Bhadra Asvina Kartika Agrahayana Pausa Magha Phalguna Number of Days 30 (31 in leap year) 31 31 31 31 31 30 30 30 30 30 30 Start date according to Gregorian Calendar 22 March (21 March in leap year) 21 April 22 May 22 June 23 July 23 August 23 September 23 October 22 November 22 December 21 January 20 February INDIAN FESTIVALS India’s rich cultural and religious heritage and its multitude of gods and goddesses have laid the foundation for a festive calendar year replete with celebrations of all kinds. Id-ul-Fitr and Christmas are celebrated at a national level. celebrating their birthdays. which differ from region to region. Hindus also dedicate special days for each one of their numerous deities. In Bihar state.
people light up their homes with ear then lamps (diyas). With the Indian calendar dependent on the lunar and solar cycles. Diwali is also a time to wear new clothes. On this day. The evil king had kidnapped 16. Diwali. and decoration with rangoli to prepare the home for the goddess Lakshmi. the most popular being the story of Lord Rama from the Hindu epic Ramayana. or Deepavali. is the biggest festival in the Indian calendar. candles. there are no fixed dates for the various festivals. new jewellery and give gifts to near and dear ones. The festival is observed for five continuous days and usually takes place in the months of October/November. After a mighty battle. mother of the gods.The gods asked Krishna for help. is celebrated in neighbouring Karnataka. freeing the girls and recovering the earrings.The victorious Krishna returned home and was bathed with scented oils. while Ugadi. According to one legend. The first day of the festival is Dhanteras. and is celebrated with much fanfare in all the regions of the country where Hindus reside. though they usually fall in the same month or period of the year. and Hindus believe it is an auspicious day to buy gold. a new moon day and the 144 . Diwali commemorates the slaughter of the evil king of Pragjyotishpur by Lord Krishna. Days preceding the festival are marked by spring cleaning. Festival of Lights Diwali. electric lights and firecrackers to express their joy and mood of celebration. The festival gets its name from the Sanskrit word dipavali meaning ‘row of lights’. It is also an important date for members of the Jain and Sikh communities. the Telugu New Year. silver or some metal object for the home. Sweetmeats are also prepared or bought and distributed among family and friends in the general spirit of bonhomie. the second day is Narka Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali and the third day is the actual Diwali.000 daughters of the gods and stolen the earrings of Aditi. giving rise to the practice of having an oil bath on Diwali day in some parts of the country. The festival has its origins in a number of legends.The harvest festival of Onam is specific to the southern state of Kerala. he succeeded in killing the demon.
As related in the Ramayana.The fifth day is known as Bhaiya Duj in the Hindi-speaking belt and Bhau Beej in the Marathi-speaking community. It is the day of Lakshmi Puja. the war against Ravana lasted for ten days. Dussehra falls in the month of October every year at the end of the nine-day Navratri Festival (or Durga Puja in Bengal). at the hands of Lord Rama (an incarnation of Vishnu). The story of Rama and Ravana. Dussehra is an important Hindu festival that symbolises the triumph of good over evil. known as Ram Leela. It marks the coronation of the legendary King Vikramaditya. the people pray to the goddess Kali on Diwali. Hargobind Singh. She is believed to enter the home and shower wealth and prosperity on the inhabitants. and to mark the day the foundation stone of the holiest Sikh shrine. as well as the start of the new year in the Hindu calendar.most auspicious of the festival.This day marks the destruction of Ravana. Hindus thus consider this day as an auspicious time to start a new venture. Durga. WHAT DIWALI MEANS TO SIKHS AND JAINS Diwali is an important festival in Sikhism. The fourth day of the festival is known as Padwa or Varshapratipada. in 1619. when Hindus pray to the goddess Lakshmi and light up their homes to welcome her. Jains celebrate Diwali because it was the day Jainism founder Lord Mahavira. Some people also gamble on Diwali—according to a Shiva-Parvati legend. not Lakshmi. is enacted in dramas in cities. the Golden Temple at Amritsar. for strength and success in battle. During the nine preceding days. Sikhs celebrate it for two reasons—to mark the release from prison of their sixth guru. Dussehra Celebrated in a variety of ways across the country. Rama is said to have prayed to the mother goddess. In the states of Bengal and Bihar. was laid in 1588. 145 THE INDIAN CALENDAR . with Rama finally vanquishing the demon on the tenth day. towns and villages across the country during the nine days of Navratri. attained moksha (freedom or salvation from the cycle of birth and death). anyone who gambles on Diwali will prosper all year. and it celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters. demon king of Lanka.
One revolves around the kingdom of the mythological King Hiranyakashipu. his 146 . In Bengal. his brother Kumbhakaran and son Meghnad are stuffed with firecrackers and set alight at sunset. as people get together to celebrate the end of winter and the start of the spring season. Like other Indian festivals. because they are symbols of the means to fight injustice and evil. Holi. in a spirit of joy and celebration. In Bengal. effigies of Ravana. all vehicles are cleaned thoroughly and prayers are offered.On Dussehra day. On the 10th day of the festival—Dussehra day—huge images of Durga are carried through the streets in a procession and immersed in a nearby body of water. It is a festival marked by colour. as crowds gather to celebrate the victory of good over evil. police and paramilitary organisations. Community members get together every day during the festive period to celebrate with song and dance performances and feasting. capital of Bengal. are set up for public veneration of the goddess. all kinds of weapons. Holi has taken on a somewhat wild and riotous character in recent times. squirting coloured water with water guns and even using buckets of water to drench others. joyous dance and play. exuberance. Thandai is a popular milk-based drink which is a favourite of revellers during the Holi festival. instruments. and are placed in front of the gods. temporary structures with large images of Durga. the occasion is celebrated as the day Durga killed the terrible demon Mahishasur. In Kolkata. known as pandals. in addition to smearing the traditional coloured powder (gulal) on each other. tools. Festival of Colours Holi falls on the day after the first full moon in the month of March. with participants throwing water balloons. In some homes on this day. pens and pencils are worshipped. A number of legends surround the festival of Holi and its origins. while the intoxicant bhang is consumed by the more adventurous. where Durga Puja is the most important Hindu festival. In the army. this is also a day of family get-togethers and feasting. thousands of pandals are erected and people are known to go pandal-hopping in the carnival-like atmosphere.
with the brother pledging love and protection for his sister. Another legend revolves around Shiva and Kama. says a small prayer for his health and well-being. or even between a leader and his subordinate. Traditionally. She completes the ceremony by offering him some sweets. the Mandir Palace is a favourite spot for celebratory dances and folk songs amidst the profusion of coloured powder. as a token of his affection. and her effigy is burnt in a bonfire on the eve of the festival in some parts of India. Songs and dances also mark the festival of colours in the rural parts of Maharashtra state. Raksha Bandhan Popularly known as Rakhi. in Uttar Pradesh state. remained unscathed in the fire. Radha. who had declared himself as god. A sister applies a tikka. a devotee of Vishnu. Rajasthan. commonly of cash. Holika is said to have died in a fire while protecting Prahlad from the wrath of his father. a simple ritual is performed to mark Raksha Bandhan. Unlike other Indian festivals. it commemorates the bond between a brother and sister. which literally means ‘ties of protection’. where it is known as Rangapanchami. the bir thplace of Krishna. hence the bonfire on the eve of Holi. Holi is named after Holika. folk songs and dances. Holi is associated with Hindu god Krishna and his companion.The rakhi can take any form. the God of Love. from a simple thread to a more elaborate bunch of colourful strings decorated with stones and attractive motifs. Priests have been known to tie rakhis on members of their congregation. Holi is celebrated over 16 days with colourful processions. In the cities of Vrindavan and Mathura. Shiva is said to have burnt Kama for disturbing his meditation. He in turn promises to love and protect his sister and gives her a gift. In this region. women tie rakhis on soldiers to wish them well on the field and members of the 147 THE INDIAN CALENDAR . on her brother’s forehead. In Jaisalmer. Prahlad. a red vermillion dot. this Hindu festival falls in the month of August on full moon day. This festival has been given a broader interpretation with the sibling relationship extended to include ties between two friends who are like brother and sister.sister Holika and his son Prahlad. then ties the rakhi on his wrist.
after the initiation ceremony with a sword. One by one. 148 . sent a rakhi to Mughal Emperor Humayun. This is one of the few Hindu festivals that has a fixed date. or Vaisakhi. too. Duryodhana. Sachi. Draupadi is said to have torn a strip of silk off her sari and tied it around Krishna’s wrist to stem the flow of blood after he suffered an injury in battle. Baisakhi Baisakhi. EXCHANGE OF RAKHIS AMONG ROYALTY Historical records reveal countless instances of exchanges of rakhis among members of royalty. the wife of the Pandavas and of Hindu god Krishna. he led five men into a tent and. The initiation ceremony took place in a tent. This festival. has its origins in Hindu mythology. He accepted her as a ‘sister’ and immediately came to her rescue. tied a thread around her husband’s wrist to ensure his victory in a duel with demon Vritra. Queen Karnawati. The Khalsa (The Pure Ones) is a brotherhood of Sikhs who have taken a vow to uphold the principles laid down by the 10th guru. The guru. He was able to do so years later. According to one legend. asked for volunteers who would be prepared to give up their lives if required. or Beloved Five. the wife of Sun God Indra. Krishna promised to repay her for her concern. It was on Baisakhi day in 1699 that Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa with the initiation of the Panj Piare. when Draupadi was about to be disrobed by her brother-in-law. Krishna came to her aid and ensured that her sari could not be taken off. is a north Indian harvest festival with a special significance for the Sikhs. for it marks their New Year and the founding of the Sikh Khalsa. In one example from the 16th century. Guru Gobind Singh. Another legend from the Mahabharata revolves around Draupadi. holding a sword in his hand. anxious about an imminent invasion of her kingdom Chittor by Bahadur Shah of Mewar. giving Sikhs an identity and a code of conduct to live by. falling on 13 April every year at the start of the solar calendar.public congregate to tie the thread on local leaders and even the prime minister of India.
These men were to dedicate themselves to the service of others and to the pursuit of justice. 486 BC. which falls between April and May. and is celebrated in March or April by Jains everywhere. The celebrations include prayer meetings. religious discourses. enlightenment and death of the Buddha. Processions of Sikh devotees who sing folk songs and perform the energetic Bhangra dance are also common. It is the most important day for Buddhists because it commemorates the birth. is decorated with colourful flags and flowers as part of the celebrations.500 years since Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment under it.The Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodh Gaya.sprinkled holy water (amrit) on them and called them the Beloved Five. Pilgrims pray at the bodhi tree. known as gurudwaras. where Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment under a bodhi tree. and Kushinagar. a comb in the hair. The Sikhs celebrate Baisakhi by thronging Sikh temples. or diamond throne. is celebrated as Buddha Poornima or Buddha Jayanti in India. placed at the exact spot the Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment. recitation of Buddhist scriptures and meditation. the founder of modern Jainism. it 149 THE INDIAN CALENDAR . Mahavira Jayanti Mahavira Jayanti is the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira. Under the tree lies the rectangular slab of sandstone known as the vajrasana. where the Buddha gave his first sermon. To participate in the Buddha Poornima celebrations. They were required to wear the five symbols of their new identity: uncut hair. a sword and shor ts. where he died in c. Other important centres in India where Buddhist pilgrims congregate for Buddha Poornima celebrations include Sarnath. a steel bracelet. in Uttar Pradesh state. which has been replanted many times in the 2. which houses all the sacred spots where the Buddha meditated after his enlightenment. where they pray and make offerings. Buddhists from all over the world congregate at Bodh Gaya in the Indian state of Bihar. Buddha Poornima Or Buddha Jayanti Vesak.
a silver coin to symbolise wealth. shakar (sugar). feasting and exchanging gifts and greetings with friends and family. Navroz Navroz. sir (garlic). Mahavirji in Rajasthan and Vaishali. Navroz. People visit fire temples on this day. flowers. nuts and pumpkin seeds symbolising creation complete the spread. Grand chariot processions with the images of Mahavira. Visitors on Navroz day are first taken to the Navroz table where certain rituals are performed. 150 . marks the start of the new year for the Zoroastrian Parsi community. temple ceremonies and the reading of Jain scriptures are some of the ways in which Jains celebrate the festival at pilgrimage spots such as Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat. These include a copy of their scriptures. He was the first to celebrate the festival to mark the change of seasons from winter to summer. samna (sumac). shirinberenj (sweetmeat). and sweets and rosewater for happiness. dried fruits. painted eggs for productivity.000 Jain shrines and 800 temples and is considered one of the most important pilgrimage spots for Jains. Palitana has over 1. a lit lamp. after which they are taken to another table where a meal has been laid out for them. shirin (sweet). shira (syrup) and shahad (honey). According to popular legend. Fruits. There are also seven things that start with ‘s’: sirocco (vinegar). each with a special significance. which means ‘new day’. an earthenware plate with sprouted wheat or beans to signify prosperity. It coincides with the spring equinox and is a time for wearing new clothes. The table also holds seven foods beginning with ‘sh’ in Persian: sharab (wine). is named after the mythical Persian King Jamshed. shir (milk). where large numbers of Jains reside. a bowl of water with live fish. seibu (apple). At home. the birthplace of Mahavira in Bihar state. senjed (sorb tree berry) and sabzi (green vegetables). or Jamshed-eNavroz as it is also called.is observed with particular fervour in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. they prepare a special Navroz table that is covered with a white cloth and holds a number of items. the Gathas.
She then asks them to look at a silver coin. and sprinkles rosewater on their hands for good health. so that they may have wealth all year round.RITUALS ON NAVROZ On Navroz. 151 THE INDIAN CALENDAR . it is customary for the woman of the house to ﬁrst make visitors smile into a mirror to ensure they smile throughout the year.
THE RESURGENCE OF INDIA .
Today. par ticularly Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in 1991. has been truly remarkable. This trend has continued in the 21st century. powered by an economy in overdrive. poverty (29 per cent of the people live below the poverty line). The transformation of India from an underdeveloped. driving India to the centre stage in Asia. overpopulated countr y deep in the throes of an economic crisis in 1991. to open up an economy shackled by corruption and the inefficiency of state-owned enterprises—a result. Liberalisation of the economy has allowed India to integrate with the global economy and helped push economic growth to record highs in the 1990s. poor infrastructure. on the high road to becoming an Asian superpower. of Nehru’s economic policies. 153 . as well as in the global arena. renowned for its knowledge-based industries and its software and information technology specialists. to one of the fastest growing economies in the world. the country is the outsourcing centre of the world.INDIA IN THE 21ST CENTURY India in the 21st century is a country on a roll. alongside China. illiteracy and a looming AIDS crisis are among the major challenges facing the world’s largest democracy as it moves steadily forward. some say. gross overpopulation. The profound change and impressive growth is a direct result of reform measures taken by Indian leaders. However.
except for minor deviations. Rajiv Gandhi. and helping it emerge victorious in the December 2003 elections with its coalition partners. upturning the primary pillars of democracy that were so dear to her father’s heart. in the form of the almost unbroken domination of the Congress Party. voted her out of power. and Indira’s elder son.) Rajiv’s widow. expected to be a submissive leader who could be dominated by the Congress. The dynastic rule begun by Jawaharlal Nehru when he became the first prime minister in 1947 continued with his daughter. Feroze Gandhi. the electorate. choosing to reject the Congress for the first time since independence. And for at least 37 of these years. Indira lifted the Emergency in January 1977 and scheduled parliamentary elections. Indira Gandhi governed India for a greater part of the 1960s and 1970s and continued some of her father’s policies. Except for a stint when Lal Bahadur Shashtri became prime minister after Nehru’s death in 1964. However. which has governed the country for as many as 44 of the 59 years since independence in 1947— excluding the years since 2004 that it has led a coalition government in Delhi. This allowed her to arrest her main opponents and take control of the press. (The name Gandhi comes from Indira’s husband. she is not related to Mahatma Gandhi. still smarting from the excesses of the authoritarian Emergency rule. 154 . Indira. Sonia.Congress Politics While India has made rapid and radical strides in economic growth. confident she would be victorious. It was her insecurity and the perceived threat to her power that led her to take the unprecedented step of declaring an Emergency in India in June 1975. has been president of the Congress Party since April 1998 and is responsible for reviving the party. proved to be a strong and politically astute prime minister who managed to consolidate her power within the party ranks and surrounded herself with a coterie of loyalists. the prime minister has hailed from the Nehru-Gandhi family. The ruling partiesand coalition alliances have largely maintained the secular and democratic framework of this multi-religious and multi-ethnic country. Indira Gandhi. out of power since 1996. its political landscape has maintained a certain continuity. She centralised power in her own hands and crushed any dissension in the party.
but they have not been able to cobble together a strong and united force to unseat the age-old Congress party and sustain their rule. the first politician outside the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to lead the country in government since Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966. during the electoral process. Rajiv Gandhi. In December 1989. Its growing popularity was fuelled by Hindu nationalist feeling over the Ayodhya site claimed by both Hindus and Muslims as sacred. Indira’s younger son. first led by 81-year-old veteran politician Morarji Desai. became the Congress Party president and the new prime minister of India. was assassinated by supporters of the Sri Lankan LTTE on 21 May 1991. when Congress came back in power. Indira Gandhi made a comeback and stayed in power until her assassination by her Sikh security guards on 31 October 1984. but the new leaders also brought with them petty party politics and dissensions in the ranks of the coalition partners. Rajiv. The government. an airline pilot who had spent just four years in politics. Italian-born Sonia. they banded to form the National Front. perpetuating the Nehru-Gandhi dynastic rule. The Opposition parties. the Congress selected P V Narasimha Rao as prime minister. In the 1980 elections. died in a plane crash in June 1980. and later by Charan Singh. lasted for three years until it lost a majority in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) and had to resign. The party doubled its share of the vote to 20 per cent and became the second largest party in Parliament. which did succeed in winning the elections but only lasted for two years until 1991. have made consistent bids for government since their first taste of power in the 1970s.Opposition in Power A coalition government led by the centrist Janata Party brought winds of change into government after three decades of Congress rule. The Ayodhya issue was 155 THE RESURGENCE OF INDIA . who was a member of parliament and widely believed to be her political heir. lacking a big enough following among the Indian masses. With his widow. Sanjay. showing no interest in politics. Hindu Nationalists to the Fore The 1991 election marked the emergence of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to national-level politics. Her son. slated to become prime minister.
the BJP called for elections in April/May 2004. Charismatic BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee. This set off massive communal riots. A case in point is the United States. across north India in September 1990. Vajpayee’s government led the country into the 21st century to achieve high economic growth and a stronger position in the international arena during its rule. with support coming from the marginalised grassroots electorate. Foreign Relations India’s exceptional growth in the software and IT-enabled services sector has helped it play a greater role in global business. when US President Bill Clinton attempted to cement ties with India after its nuclear 156 . Two years later. Top BJP leaders were arrested for inciting the destruction of the mosque. The Congress Party-led coalition. where it is no longer possible for a single party to muster enough votes to secure a majority on its own.ignited by BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani. led the 18-party National Democratic Alliance in the new government. or chariot procession. as a non-aligned nation. has traditionally been wary of aligning itself with any power bloc. Advani’s call to rally Hindus on the Ayodhya issue was a political strategy that served the BJP well. Instead. but since 1998. which in turn has enabled it to forge closer economic and diplomatic ties with other countries. the party suffered an unexpected defeat. on 6 December 1992. had no doubt they would be voted back to power. He called on Hindus to tear down the existing Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya and restore the Hindu Rama temple destroyed by Muslim invader Mahmud of Ghazni at the same site in the 10th century. India. formed the new government with Dr Manmohan Singh as prime minister. who set off on a rath yatra. in a buoyant mood. Party leaders. Hindu radicals from all over India tore down the Babri Masjid. Confident about its standing with the Indian electorate and armed with its ‘India Shining’ advertising campaign highlighting its accomplishments. as prime minister. killing thousands of people. The BJP increased its share of parliamentary seats in the 1998 election and came to power with its allies in a coalition government—now the norm in politically fragmented India. to the astonishment of BJP politicians and members of the urban electorate.
religions. to the present day when it is the seventh largest country in the world. India has voiced concerns about what it claims are Pakistan-sponsored terrorist strikes on its territory. Pakistan and Bangladesh.The two sides have been holding foreign secretary-level talks as part of their ongoing peace process without making much headway. in September 2006 and agreed to create a joint anti-terrorist mechanism to tackle the problem. India’s borders have changed countless times in its tumultuous history—from the ancient period when its territory covered parts of Afghanistan. a land of snake charmers and folklore. cuisine and music. the two countries have drawn closer. multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. India’s relations with its neighbour Pakistan have been turbulent in the decades since independence. 157 THE RESURGENCE OF INDIA . It is this rich cultural mosaic that continues to give India its identity and singularity. underscored by an expansion in two-way trade. Nepal. it is more like a continent straddling the mighty Himalayas on one side and the Deccan Plateau on the other. arts. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf met on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Summit in Havana. it remains steeped in culture and tradition. India has also warmed up towards China. Burma. Cuba. the vigorous Bhangra dance and colourful batik.tests. India’s multiplicity extends to its languages. Its multilinguistic. with these same nations as its neighbours. Continuity and Change India presents an intriguing paradox of continuity and change as it forges ahead. crafts. has given India a fascinating diversity. with one of the most virulent being an attack on the Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001. which has nearly doubled from 2001 to 2004. an outcome of its complex origins thousands of years ago. which differ from one state to another and from one region to the next. with the two nations having gone to war several times over the thorny issue of Kashmir. A country of over one billion people. Even while it rapidly transforms itself into an IT powerhouse of the 21st century.
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ABOUT THE .
public relations and publishing during her long career. magazines. She has been living in Singapore with her husband and two children for the past seven years. Anjana is widely travelled and has lived in such diverse regions as North America. She received her Master of Mass Communication from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore and has taught academic writing and communication to undergraduate students there. 167 . Africa and the Middle East. having worked in news agencies as well as newspapers.AUTHOR ANJANA MOTIHAR CHANDRA is a freelance journalist with extensive experience in writing and editing.
Ratan. She would also like to acknowledge the valuable contribution made by Rajive. Lee Mei Lin and Wee Wong for their kind help and support in writing this book. Pushpa and Renuka Motihar and Surabhi Bikhchandani. Narayanswamy.The author would like to thank M. 169 . without whom this book would not have been possible. Ritika and Anantya Chandra.R.
145 Archaeological Survey of India 22 architecture 34. 65 Brahmi Script 97 Brhadratha 31 British 22. 105. 69. 118. 29 Bodh Gaya 82. 59. 50. 33. 52. 122. 122. 106. 119. 62. 34. 38. 66. 86. 63 Baisakhi 148–149 Bal Gangadhar Tilak 66 Bangladesh 19. 73. 52. 58. 107 Aryabhata 37. 39. 127 Bombay Arya Samaj 64 Brahma 24. 50. 118. 100 Bronze Age 21 Bucephalus 27. 25. 60. 53. 53. 61 British Raj 62–64. 36. 138. 71. 40. 66. 36. 134. 128 Amritsar 68. 67. 89. 87. 56. 63. 52. 26. 97. 61. 85. 42. 68. 24. 22. 72. 45. 64. 36. 114. 33. 120 Ala-ud-din 47 Alexander the Great 27–28 Alfanso-de-Albuquerque 57 All India Muslim League 67 Amitabh Bachchan 126. 141 Aurangzeb 54–56. 54 Akbar the Great 51–52. 90. 51. 41. 51. 81. 80. 59. 26 Bindusura 28. 121. 120. 60. 71. 75 157 Battle of Buxar 59 Battle of Hydaspes 27. 42. 112. 139 Babur the Tiger 50. 25. 28 Buddha 25. 76. 44. 120. 50. 83. 100. 30. 28 Bengal 26. 32. 40. 76. 62 Babylon 27 Bahadur Shah II 55. 86 ayurveda 136–137. 145. 149 Bollywood 125–128 Bombay 57. 57. 86. 57. 29–31. 117 Bhopal 19. 146 Bhimbetka 19–20. 123 Agra Fort 53. 106. 67. 58. 77. 30. 73. 134. 141 Aryans 23. 111.Adi Shankaracharya 42 Aga Khan 67 Agra 50. 149 171 . 62. 117 Bimbisara 25. 36. 61. 20. 66. 65. 115. 55. 55. 117. 118 arrival of the Europeans 56–64 art 19. 84. 32 Brahmins 24. 126 British East India Company 58–62 British India 60. 41. 72. 104. 99. 30. 86. 64. 51. 93 Ashoka 26. 95. 30. 93. 54. 63. 54. 97 Ashoka Pillar 30 astronomy 37. 136 Brahmanism 25. 31. 81. 52. 123 arts and crafts 117–123 Arundhati Roy 100. 34. 119. 76. 83. 37. 60. 70.
155. 37. 157 Calcutta 58. 71. 61. 88. 55. 87 Christians 51. 80. 55. 122. 118 Golden Temple 89. 103. 50. 90. 48. 96 Demetrius 32 Devagiri 48 Din-i Ilahi 52 Diwali 102. 47. 53. 123. 48. 60. 143. 45. 65. 54. 74. 51. 72. 55. 39 Hyderabad 73. 79–82. 105. 32. 39. 123 172 . 28. 119 Dussehra 102. 63. 34. 34. 85. 76. 58 Early Vedic Period 23–24 East Indies 58 Elphinstone. 41. 79. 96. 138 Cunningham. 57. Warren 59 henna 120–121 Hinduism 22. 50. 38. 142. 48. 65. 91. 36. 144. 42 Chola dynasty 42 Christianity 41. 96. 155. 56. 71. 93. 70. 69. 55. 77. 148 Huns 38. 86. 131. 50. 30. 114. 45–47. Mountstuart 56 Fatehpur Sikri 52 Fa Hsien 36 Feroz Shah Tughlaq 47 folk art 117. 52. 144–145 Dravidians 22. 51. 99 Hindus 47. 76. 145–147 Dutch 57. 33. 150 caste system 24. 58 Gandhara School of Art 33 Ganesh 81 Ganges River 27. 86. 79. 156 Holi 143. 62. 94. 63. 85. 79. 73. 42. 87 Churchill. 145. 25. 36 Chandragupta II 35–36 Chandragupta Maurya 28. 143. 63. 150 Gupta Empire 34–38 Gupta period 26. 31. 93. 87 Golden Age 34. 94. 107 Cave Art 118 Chandannagar 58 Chandragupta 26. 95. 154. 22. 58. 62. 89. 83. 37. 37. 75. 87. 118 burial rituals 23 Burma 37. 141. 120 Franciso-de-Almedia 57 French 57. 73. 82. 82. 34. 69. 146–147 horse sacriﬁce 26 Hsuan Tsang 39 Humayun 50. 82–83. 86. 49. 120. 123. 39. 42. 65. 51.Buddhism 29. 88. 48. 51. 23. 89 Harappa 21. 44. 40. 84 Chauhan 39. 22 Harshvardhana 38–39 Hastings. 40 Cheras 41 Chera dynasty 43 Cholas 41. 52. 145 Gujarat 35. 39. 154 Delhi Sultanate 44. 76. 156 copper 20. 97. 29. 80 Ganges Valley 34 Genghis Khan 49 Ghiyas ud-din Tughlaq 48 glass painting 119 Goa 57. 49. 118 Guru Nanak 88. Winston 72 Congress Party 66. Alexander 22 dance 130–131 Dark Age of India 40–41 Delhi 36. 45.
26. 150 Jalal-ud-din 47 Jallianwala Bagh 68 Jama Masjid 53. 155 Indo-Greek Kingdom 32–33 Indus River 20. 81. 154. 44. 61. 121 Marathas 54. 23. 39. 76 Magadha 25. 37. 49. 79. 82. 105 India in the 21st century 153–157 Indira Gandhi 77. 147. 84. 30. 69. 154 Mahavira Jayanti 149 Mahmud of Ghazni 44–45. 123. 31. 120. 76. 106. 25 Laws Of Manu 25 Liaquat Ali Khan 67 literature 34. 69. 87. 118. 94. 157 Kathasaritsagara 112 Kerala 42. 97. 83. 63. 103. 27. 85. 99. 52. 144 Khilji dynasty 47 Kohinoor Diamond 61 Kosygin. 123. 71. 55. 79. 76. 148 Kshatriyas 24 Kumaragupta 36 Lahore 45. 120. 71 Later Vedic Period 23. 29. 21. 100. 154 Jhansi 60 Kadalpirakottiya Vel Kelu Kuttuvan 43 Kalidasa 37–38. 47 Imayavaramban Nedum Cheralatan 43 Indian calendar 141–151 Indian festivals 143–151 Indian National Army 72 Indian National Congress 65. 66. 86. 77. 119. 79. 85. 156 Mamluk dynasty 45 Maqbool Fida Husain 120. 126 Lodhi dynasty 49 Lodhi Sultan Ibrahim 49 Lord Dalhousie 60. 133 Iron Pillar Of Delhi 36 Islam 44. 30. Alexei 75 Krishna 40. 73. 38. 117 173 INDEX . 96 Indus Valley Civilisation 21–22. 79. 125. 104 Kalinga 28. 51. 28.101. 137. 93. 57. 41. 80. 55. 38. 117. 99. 122. 84–85. 52. 51. 90. 88. 85–87 Jahangir 51. 87. 112. 111. 145 Jains 51. 56 Marshall. John 22 Mathematics 37. 27. 61. 37. 89 Jainism 25. 32. 74–75. 67. 101. 52. 52–53. 62 Lord Mountbatten 73 Macedonia 27 Madhubani painting 117 Madhya Pradesh 19. 72. 87. 73. 144. 34 medicine 24. 80. 105. 86 Jataka Tales 111 Jawaharlal Nehru 67. 39. 84. 104. 96 Mahabharata 23. 134 Maurya dynasty 26. 28. 34. 52. 42. 46. 37. 149. 119 Kamasutra 37 Kanchipuram 41 Kanishka 33 Kanva dynasty 31 Kargil War 75 Kashmir 33. 55. 107. 133. 104. 43. 101. 95. 63. 104. 50. 35. 145. 148 Mahajanapadas 25–26 Mahatma Gandhi 68. 136–138 Mehrgarh 19–20. 118. 29. 120 Madras 60. 36. 96. 103.Iltutmish 46.
55. 54 music 35. 55. 62. 130 Puranas 79. 79. 68. 32. 49. 61. 80. 147 Ramakrishna Mission 65 Ramayana 23. 21. 110. 43. 63. 47 Rabindranath Tagore 51. 73. 97. 44. 48. 123. 79. 99. 48 poetry 35. 61. 40. 75 Rajiv Gandhi 77. 72 Qur’an 85 Qutb-ud-din Aibak 45. 104–105. 27. 51. 111 Pandit Vishnu Sharma 109 Pandyas 41. 76. 120. 52. 27. 105. 145 Ram Mohun Roy 65. 105. 43. 96 Porus 27 Pratihara 39 Premchand 105–106 Prithviraj Chauhan 40. 28. 81. 41. 65. 67. 86. 40. 22 Mother Teresa 88. 122. 44 Pandya dynasty 43 Parmaar 39 Parthian 33. 38. 67. 109. 33. 73. 144. 71. 29 Navroz 150–151 Nobel Prize in Literature 100 ofﬁcial languages 94 om 82 Orissa 30. 155 Mysore 59 Nana Saheb 56 Nanda dynasty 26. 113 Pondicherry 58 population 64. 37. 89. 150 Raja Raja Chola I 42 Rajendra Prasad 67. 44. 102–103. 50. 74. 54. 56. 57. 99 Pusyamitra Sunga 31 Queen Victoria 63 Quetta Valley 20 Quit India Movement 71. 56. Muhammad of Ghur 45 Mumtaz Mahal 53. 79. 26. 60. 45. 62. 85. 119–120 Mira Bai 40 modern art 121 modern literature 104 Mohenjo-Daro 21. 56 Partition and Independence 73 Pataliputra 25. 120 Rajasthan 41. 89. 42. 86 Muhammad Ali Jinnah 67 Muhammad bin Tughlaq 44. 46 Qutb Minar 46. 74. 73. 28. 51. 147. 113. 63. 154. 34 performing arts 124–131 Persia 28. 119. 54. 87. 83. 62. 30. 155 Rajputs 39. 85. 45. 89. 114. 120. 31. 49. 109 Perumchottu Utiyan Cheralatan 43 Peshawar 33. 22. 43. 100 rangoli painting 123 174 . 71. 157 Pallava dynasty 41 Panchatantra 37. 71. 99. 50. 51. 28. 93 Portuguese 56. 129–130.Mesopotamia 22 miniature paintings 52. 61. 44. 120 Pagla Tughlaq 48 Pakistan 19. 157 Muslims 44. 87. 20. 45 Raksha Bandhan 143. 133. 57. 44. 62. 35. 75. 23. 45 Prophet Muhammad 86 proverbs 113 Punjab 22. 31. 122 Mughal Empire 50. 85. 76. 88.
80. 101. 49. 80 Vesak 149 Vijayanagara 43. 42. 100. 34. 45. 136. 141 Vedic Civilisation 23. 123 tea 64 Tegh Bahadur 55. 99. 54 religion 79–91 Salman Rushdie 100. 119. 96. 147 Shivaji Bhonsle 55 Shudras 24 Siddha 136– 138 Siddhartha Gautama 81. 80. 133. 106 Salt March 70 Samudragupta 35 Sanskrit 23. 89. 65. 79. 114 Tughlaqabad Fort 48 Tughlaq dynasty 44. 26. 38 Solanki 39 Southern Kingdoms 41. 118. 71 Skandagupta 36. 41 Satavahana dynasty 32 Satnamis 55 Sayyids 49 Sayyid dynasty 49 Scythians 33 Seleucus 28 Sepoy Mutiny 62. 147 Wheels of Dharma 83 175 INDEX . 42. 49 Tipu Sultan 59 Tughlaq 44. 130. 145 Sind 22. 86 Shaykh Salim Chishti 52 Shishunaga dynasty 26 Shiva 22. 138. 25. 63 Seven Pagodas of Mahabalipuram 41 Seven Years War 58 Shah Jahan 53–54. 99. 147. 86. 48. 50. 54. 47–48. 51. 62 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh 74 Ravi Shankar 129. 63. 44. 81. 112. 52. 73 Satakarni 32 Satavahanas 32. 102. 149 Vaishyas 24 Varanasi 80 Vardhamana 84 Vardhana dynasty 38. 43. 87. 80. 47. 83. 65. 82. 102. 42. 43. 123. 44 Vindhya Mountains 19 Vishnu 35. 95. 44. 97. 52. 145. 149 Sikhism 55. 82. 88–89. 130 Raziya Sultan 46 Red Fort 53. 136. 123. 133. 62. 45. 114 Tughlaqabad 48. 39. 82. 145. 42 Third Battle of Panipat 56 Timur 48. 49 Tulsi Das 52 UNESCO 19. 81. 25. 87. 39 Vasco da Gama 57 Vasudeva Kanva 31 Vedas 23. 42.Rani of Jhansi 60 Ranjit Singh 61. 109. 86. 94. 70. 97. 123 Tamil Nadu 41. 37. 94. 133 Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel 67. 54. 89 Temple of Srirangam 43 Thanjavur 41. 95. 48. 80. 118 Urdu 71. 45. 58 Subhas Chandra Bose 72 Sunga Dynasty 31 Swami Dayananda Saraswati 64 Taj Mahal 53. 109. 106 Uttar Pradesh 30. 79.
141 Zoroastrianism 52. 72 Xavier. 87 Yamuna River 54 yoga 81. 82. Francis 57. 90–91 Zoroastrians 53 176 . 138–139.Womesh Chandra Banerjee 66 World War II 71. 79. 101.